Tuesday, 01 August, 2006
More on ActionScript
I've been working with ActionScript almost every day for a month now, and have grown to like it a lot. It was touch and go there for a while for several reasons.
First, the development environment is primitive by today's standards. My development environment consists of TextPad and the command-line Flash compiler. I set up a TextPad macro to invoke the Flash compiler and--this was a big surprise--the output is displayed in an editor window. I can click on an error message to be taken to the offending line of code. But that's about as "integrated" as the development environment gets. Testing is done in a browser window and debug output is sent to a log file. I almost have real-time debug output in that TextPad will prompt me to reload the log file when it changes.
All the niceties of Delphi and Visual Studio are missing, though. I don't have a visual control editor or source-level debugger, and the Flash compiler is slow. Glacial, even, compared with any other compiler I've used in the past 15 years or so. Documentation consists of an HTML Language Reference and a bunch of disconnected PDF files.
With all that you'd think that I'd hate working with Flash, but I don't. I'm finding that I don't really need--or in many cases even want--all that stuff. I'm finding that I use fancy development tools as a crutch and I often let the compiler do my thinking for me. Not so with the ActionScript apps I'm writing.
I know that there's Flex Builder--the Eclipse-based IDE that I can download from Adobe's Web site. I played with it briefly but didn't like it. As with any IDE these days, you have to marry the darn thing in order to be productive, and I'm not entirely certain that marrying Eclipse would make me any more productive than I am already. Besides, Eclipse is a reasonably good generic IDE, but not terribly good as an IDE for any specific product.