Flash Actionscript Editor: Flex Builder vs. FlashDevelop

For doing complex development with Flash, it can help to have a more powerful Actionscript editor than the built in Flash CS3 editor. I’ve been testing Flex Builder and FlashDevelop, both of which can export both Flash or Flex (Flex is Flash with a library of components built for making web applications). Both seem to have their pluses and minuses. FlashDevelop is free.

As Nyquist says, Flex Builder can be better if you’re doing more Flex (MXML) based development. In addition to having class view of the MXML and being good about hinting for MXML attributes, it’s got a design view which FlashDevelop doesn’t have. But, I’ve found a free AIR app that can mimic some of the functionality in the Flex Builder design view, called DesignView. It’s not as full featured as Flex Builder’s design view, but it can help to fill in the gap if you don’t have Flex Builder.

As Sacks points out, FlashDevelop has very good code hinting, arguably better than Flex Builder and can also do error reporting right when you save a class. Flash CS3 can still be handy when you’re creating vector graphics or components to use in Flash or Flex.

Additionally, AdvancedDataGrid is not included in the open source Flex 3 SDKs (which FlashDevelop uses); so if you want that, you have to buy Flex Builder. FlashDevelop also doesn’t yet have any external source control integration, but FlexBuilder possesses the existing, stable source control options for Eclipse, which includes Subclipse for SVN.

For now, I think I’ll keep and use all three for different purposes. Flex Builder for MXML development, FlashDevelop for Actionscript coding, and Flash CS3 for creating assets for use in Flash. What is your prefered Flash development tool? Leave a comment below.

14 thoughts on “Flash Actionscript Editor: Flex Builder vs. FlashDevelop”

  1. I’ve been using both Flex

    I’ve been using both Flex Builder and Flash Develop at work. I’m a long time Flash Develop user, so I’ve a little bias towards it. Lately, I’ve been trying to look at Flex Builder with regards to its strengths. I’ve found that if I am doing a lot of MXML coding, Flex Builder is a better tool.

  2. I use Flash 8 IDE only for

    I use Flash 8 IDE only for creating graphics and symbols. Haven’t touched Flash CS3 yet, so I don’t know how it would fit in my workflow. I am gonna try it and lets see how it goes…

  3. Major reason to use Flex

    Major reason to use Flex Builder: has a real debugger you can set breakpoints and single step and watch/edit variables. The biggest advantage what I felt is Easy debugging and profiling. Thankx.

  4. When it comes to Action

    When it comes to Action Script 3 coding, I’d much rather be in FlashDevelop. FlashDevelop’s code hinting is much more powerful, for example it does NOT require you to type exactly the right characters.

  5. My recommendation For

    My recommendation For debugging, visual design of MXML: FlexBuilder is the best. For mostly coding of Action script under Windows: FlashDevelop is the best. Its ur decision now…

    • Most actionscript developers

      Most actionscript developers have their editor of choice FlashDevelop has it’s followers who swear by it. Flex Builder has it’s nice auto imports and code corrections and if you know your way around snippets, which can also be used to make TextMate quite the lofty editor.

      • For me flashdevelop is

        For me flashdevelop is waaaaaayyyy better then flex builder for CS3 project. It’s smaller, faster and have much better code completion. Flex Builder lacks even some of the basics of any Windows application such as “redo” and other stuffs.

    • FlashDevelop is most similar

      FlashDevelop is most similar to Flash Builder aka Flex Builder. All of those use the Flex SDK (by default) to compile AS3. The term Flex is kind of vague when used without much context. 

      • I’ve just taken the

        I’ve just taken the plunge into Flex after about a year of avoiding it — mainly because my clients weren’t ready for it yet. It’s definitely a big scary world, but once you get comfortable with it, it’s exciting too. 

  6. I’ve been using both Flex

    I’ve been using both Flex Builder and Flash Develop at work. Both are good tools according to me.

    • Here are two objective

      Here are two objective contrasts between Flash Develop (with the Flex 3 SDK) and Flex Builder. First, only Flex Builder includes Advanced Data Grid. Second, Flash Develop has no source control integration. 

  7. Flex component integration

    Flex component integration into Flash CS3 is 99% doubtful, since Flash doesn’t have access to the Flex framework. Flash includes its own lightweight component set, which tries to mirror some of the API, but don’t have any data services binding.

  8. I am not sure, which one

    I am not sure, which one will be the best Flash development tool. I use FlashDevelop 3.0.0 RTM.

  9. FlashDevelop’s code hinting
    FlashDevelop’s code hinting is much more powerful, for example it does NOT require you to type exactly the right characters. It’s a breeze to jump around to declarations of code as well as nice features for creating getters/setters, promoting local variable to member variables, and creating event handlers. ASP.NET Hosting

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