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The Flex Object Browser or The Ruby Explorer?

Just how useful are they?
by Huw Collingbourne
Monday 2 February 2009.

We’ll be adding support for the Visual Studio Object Browser in the next version of Amethyst, our IDE for Adobe Flex development. If you are a regular Visual Studio user, we’d be interested to know how useful you find this tool.

The Flex Object Browser (next beta of Amethyst)

I have to be honest. In all the years in which I’ve been using Visual Studio I have never used the Object Browser. Unlike the class browser in Smalltalk (say) it is not a crucial tool for browsing classes and methods.

When we came to implement a class browser for our Ruby IDE, Ruby In Steel, we came up with an alternative tool, The Ruby Explorer. This docks into a single window rather than the multi-pane windows of the Object Browser and its methods are arranged on branches beneath each class name. The Ruby Explorer provides simple navigation to the Ruby source code of classes and members (when available) or to the embedded documentation when not available (e.g. the classes compiled into Ruby’s C-language source code).

The Ruby Explorer (Ruby In Steel Developer)

For some time we’ve been discussing the possibility of creating more powerful class browsing tools for Ruby In Steel and Amethyst. Does the Object Browser fit the bill? While it provides a pretty effective way of displaying classes and members, it still seems to me to be something of a ‘world apart’ from the rest of Visual Studio.

If you are a regular Visual Studio user, we’d be interested to hear from you. Just how useful is the Object Browser? And, if it’s not useful enough, what can we do to make it more useful?

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