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What is FlashDevelop?

written by: Amy Carson•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 5/27/2010

Learn more about FlashDevelop, an open-source alternative to Adobe Flex. FlashDevelop is free, but can it compete with Adobe? We conclude it can, and does, thanks to a highly-extensible, intuitive interface and powerful features.

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    Alternative to Adobe Flex

    FlashDevelop is an open-source alternative to Adobe Flex. It’s a Microsoft Windows .NET 2.0 application, but it can also be run on Mac OS X or Linux in a virtual Windows environment. FlashDevelop is highly regarded for its ease of use and flexibility, as well as the well-known benefits of open source software: a robust programming community continually improving the software.

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    FlashDevelop is a full-featured ActionScript coding tool, supporting ActionScript 2/3, MXML, and HaXe. It seamlessly integrates with Flex SDK when using ActionScript 3, and with SWFMILL and MTASC (Motion-Twin ActionScript 2 Compiler) when using ActionScript 2. Additionally, FlashDevelop offers code completion not only for ActionScript, but also in web development in HTML, XML, and MXML.

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    But is it customizable?

    FlashDevelop is highly extensible, with an open plug-in based architecture - customize it to your own coding needs and habits. The interface is pretty flexible and intuitive, with docking and a Project panel from which you can oversee the big picture, helpful for keeping on top of a coding project. The program menu is customizable, and FlashDevelop includes a snippets panel you can use to store bits of code in an easily-discoverable format.

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    Working within FlashDevelop

    For those familiar with Eclipse, FlashDevelop’s environment won’t be a surprise; the two look remarkably similar. Use the Outline panel for a quick overview of your code, and F4, one of FlashDevelop’s many keyboard shortcuts, will take you straight to the declaration of the element you’re looking for.

    FlashDevelop’s smart code completion feature helps to streamline typing by suggesting code completion for your and others’ classes. It will also automatically import your project classes, and auto-complete Proxy classes. In a feature unique to FlashDevelop, it will also complete arrays code and vector code.

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    FlashDevelop displays errors in a double-clickable format in the Results panel. It recognizes several compilers, including HaXe, Flash CS3, MTASC, and, of course, Flex SDK, among others.

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    FlashDevelop is a worthy open-source solution for coders seeking an Adobe Flex alternative. It’s rich feature set combined with an active user and development community means that support, not to mention rapport, is always at hand, and it’s likely to stick around for a while.

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    Where to get FlashDevelop

    User community: