Flash Builder 4 beta – my favorite features

In case you didn’t know yet, Flash Builder 4 beta (the product previously known as Flex Builder) is now available for download on labs.adobe.com, as is the beta for Flash Catalyst.

I’ve been playing around with the public beta for a little bit and thought it was worth blogging some of my favorite features in this release when it comes to features in the IDE. Up until now I’ve only tested it with pure ActionScript projects, so might discover some more gems later on.

Generating getter/setter methods

This is a huge time saver, you can now just define your class properties, right-click and select Source > Generate Getter/Setter and you get a useful dialog allowing you to specify how you want that getter and setter method set up. You can make your class property private, rename it, specify if you want the getter and/or setter, set up its access modifier and even define where you want those generated methods to get added in your code.

Generate Getter/Setter

SWC introspection

If you work with library projects or third party SWC files you can now introspect those and figure out its packages, classes and methods. SWC files generated with Flash Builder 4 can also have their ASDoc comments embedded.

SWC introspection

ASDoc integration

ASDoc is a tool that comes with Flash Builder for generating documentation from Javadoc style comments in your Flash Builder projects. There’s now a panel that shows the documentation for a selected property or instance, you also get a tooltip showing the documentation when you hover over them.

As mentioned earlier this also works with SWC files generated from Flash Builder 4, since those can now contain the ASDoc information (increases SWC filesize, but not filesize when exporting a release build).

ASDoc integration

Be sure to give Flash Builder beta a try yourself, I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen so far and am sure it will improve productivity significantly.


12 thoughts on “Flash Builder 4 beta – my favorite features

  1. Vic says:

    I especially like the new shortcut for indentation: CTRL+I
    Handy if you copy/past a lot of examples during the learning phase and you want the right indentation. 🙂

  2. Just a shame the generation of getter/setters can only be done variable per variable and not in group like in any normal Eclipse environment. Myabe that will be a feature in the final release. I certainly hope so

  3. Alain says:

    I really like the generate getter/setter too, but it’s still far from the killer feature. Let’s hope they will link it with an easy shortcut and make it possible to generate multiple getters/setters at once.

    One of my favorite features is the easy integration with FlexUnit.

  4. thibaud says:

    That doesn’t sound like 3 ones that will make me switch from flashdevelop which already had that(and much more).

  5. Fardeen says:

    +1 For Steven

    Why didn’t they just copy the tool from eclipse to generate the getter / setter. It’s a shame.

  6. Sumo says:

    I have to say, I’m massively unimpressed. FDT is so far ahead now and Adobe don’t seem to making any effort to catch up, let alone overtake. At this rate I think there will be a lot of people jumping ship at the next release.

  7. lee probert says:

    FlashDevelop is ok if you just want to author MXML and Actionscript but if you need to manage everything under one roof then Eclipse is the only option. You’ll want to configure it with all the plugins you need so you have SVN support (subclipse), ANT (for custom builds), WebTools (for all your Javascript, CSS & HTML tweaks) and all the other perspectives you can setup so you can use the same authoring environment for your entire project.

  8. lee probert says:

    not to mention FXG support in FB4 … be nice to have a FXG generator UI too.

  9. “Let’s hope they will link it with an easy shortcut and make it possible to generate multiple getters/setters at once.”

    I made a little tool for myself (using AIR) that generates multiple getters/setters at once. Feel free to download and use it.


  10. Tink says:

    Yeah getter/setter creation pretty useless unless you can do multiple. Its quicker to copy and paste getter/setters multiple times and rename em. I cant believe that the dev implementing the feature actually used it, cos they would soon see how time consuming and laborious the current implementation is.

    I have to admit it does seem somewhat strange that these small companies and open source projects can be ahead of Adobe at some things, with all the money and man power they have.

    @Sumo – FDT is far ahead in many ways, and from what I seen at Flash on Tap making good progress with MXML intergration. It aint there yet though!

  11. Chris Deely says:

    My favorite feature so far is instant access to variable values while debugging. If you debug an app and hit a break point, roll your mouse over any variable in your code to see a tool tip showing its current value.

    So much better than trying to navigate the bloated (and unsearchable) “Variables” window!

    The ASDoc integration is nice, but we need more features for WRITING ASDoc comments, not just reading them. I want ASDoc autocompletion; FlashDevelop has it and it is a real time saver.

  12. Satya says:

    When I tried creating the getter/setter methods, it is greyed out/disabled. What could be the reason please?

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