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Section :: Rants and Raves

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Visual Studio, Flex, Flash and sheer exhaustion

New Amethyst Beta
Tuesday 8 December 2009.

Shipping new versions of beta software is pretty darn’ exhausting...

As you may know, most of my time recently has been involved in the development of Amethyst, my company’s Flash Platform IDE for Visual Studio. This is a huge project. Bigger and more complex even than our other IDE, Ruby In Steel, for programming the Ruby language.

Not only does it have a huge range of editing features - including IntelliSense, code refactoring, code colouring and collapsing, plus an integrated ’drill-down debugger’ - but it also has (and this is the killer) a fully integrated drag-and-drop design environment.

OK, so what? (you may be thinking) - don’t all Visual Studio languages have a designer? Well, yes, most do. But then most use one of the designers created by Microsoft. We didn’t have that option. The Flash Platform isn’t .NET and it isn’t Win32. It’s a mix of Adobe technologies including the Flash Player, the ActionScript language and the Flex framework. In order to build a drag-and-drop designer we have had to use these technologies to create the design environment and then embed it right in the middle of Visual Studio so that, as far as the end user can see, it should look like a natural and native part of Visual Studio itself.

The Amethyst Designer integrates with the Visual Studio Toolbox and the toolbars, it uses the Properties and Events panels. You can even double-click a control such as a Button to create a button-click event-handler in the ActionScript code.

Sounds easy? Nope, it isn’t! ;-)

Anyhow, we’ve just released the latest beta of Amethyst so if you want to have a play around with it over Christmas, why not go over to our site and download a copy?

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