Open Source Flash Development

From the 2005 Archives Visual Arts #FLASH No Comments

I’m late getting to the party, but apparently there’s been something of a revolution in ActionScript 2.0 development…Open Source Tools!

I was browsing the BIT-101 blog for the first time, and read about MTASC, a stand-alone command-line compiler for ActionScript 2.0. That is incredibly cool. Can’t wait to try it out…it’s open source, and supposed to be very fast. I am freakily jazzed by new compilers :-)

Then I read about “FAME” — a collection of tools consisting of Flashout, Eclipse, ASDT, MTASC. So there’s more to this. This article on actionscript.com lays out the basics of Open Source Flash development:

  • Eclipse is an open-source Integrated Development Environment (IDE). In ye olden dayes, you used to have to compile things by using make, which required you to maintain text files describing how your program got compiled. An IDE is a point-and-click visual version of this, with a debugger and file/class browsers thrown in. Flash MX 2004 takes a baby step toward becoming a real IDE with the addition of the Project window.

    Eclipse is written in Java, which is one reason why I’ve always avoided primarily because I don’t really like running virtualized software. On the other hand, Flash is a VM platform, so I should get over it.

    You can configure Eclipse to work with any number of computer languages, like Java, C++, and so forth. I have it already installed for some Java experiments, so I might as well give it a try with Flash.

  • ASDT is a plugin for Eclipse that adds ActionScript 2.0 support: syntax coloring, code folding, etc. Code folding is one feature I am pretty desperate to have these days.

  • Flashout is another plugin for Eclipse that lets you view SWF content within the IDE.

  • MTASC is the compiler that turns your .AS files into SWF. You configure Eclipse so it knows how to find the MTASC program and class files.

With all these tools, you’ve got yourself a free Flash development environment that is potentially faster, more feature rich, and available for your own tweaking. Some assembly is required. :-)