Amethyst Marries Flash Platform and Visual Studio

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Amethyst Marries Flash Platform and Visual Studio

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SapphireSteel is a company known for filling in the gaps that some .NET developers fall between when they need to develop with platforms that aren't supported in Visual Studio.  Their first tool was Ruby in Steel, which allowed Ruby (and JRuby or RoR) developers to have their own IDE in Visual Studio.  Sapphire Steel's newest creation is approaching the finish line with this week's beta 8 release of Amethyst - a Visual Studio IDE for the Adobe Flash Platform.

Amethyst has been in beta for more than a year, and this week the project reached its 8th and final beta.  The Flex/Flash development environment facilitates the creation of applications by dragging components from the toolbox into the Amethyst Designer.  You double-click to automatically create an event-handler, after which you add any other necessary code.  Then your Flex application is ready to run or debug.

Amethyst Designer Interface     Credit: Sapphire Steel

Amethyst has all of the features that one would expect in a Visual Studio development product:

  • IntelliSense
  • Drill-down debugger
  • Code Refactoring
  • Customizable Code Formatting
  • Auto-expanding Snippets
  • Drag-and-Drop application design
  • Align controls to ‘alignment bars’
  • Align controls to a customizable grid
  • Round-tripping between the Designer and Code Editor
  • Import/Convert Wizard for existing Flex or Flash Builder projects
The 8th beta includes a 'Go live' mode that allows end-user-type interaction with your design.  Styles support and property editors have also been added in Amethyst Designer.  Color pickers and other dedicated editors are now in the Property Panel.  The beta 8 also features 'code behind' to link ActionScript files with MXML templates. 

An application publish capability has been added along with user defined comments and tasks to go along with code in the editor.  A major new feature is AIR project support in Amethyst Designer.  The Amethyst Flash Player is also supplied as an option for debugging in this release.  

The debugger now has an expression evaluator.  It can also run and debug just the Flash Player instead of the browser.  Code formatting has been improved with the previewer being built into the Format Options dialog.  More auto-expanding snippets have also been added:

Auto-Expanding Code Snippets      Credit: Sapphire Steel

Code editor debugging windows and 'hover and drill-down'      Credit: Sapphire Steel

Amethyst will be released later this year in two editions: Amethyst Professional and Amethyst Personal (Free).  Professional will include all features - Amethyst Designer, extensive code refactoring, IntelliSense, and a powerful debugger.  Amethyst Personal will have a more limited amount of editing and debugging features.  You can check out the complete feature list of Amethyst thus far and you can find the download here.  Take a tour of Amethyst here and check out the screencast tutorial here.

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