FlashDevelop 3 Prerelease Test Drive

Since its been quiet on the FlashDevelop front regarding version 3, I decided to update the repository and see if I could compile the source to see the progress. First things first, with FD2 you could compile it with SharpDevelop version 1.1 (for .NET Framework 1.1), but to compile FD3 you need to use MS Visual C# Express Edition (for .NET Framework 2.0). I’m not positive, but I would assume you could also use version 2.1 of SharpDevelop.

Once Visual C# was installed, I built the solution and everything compiled with no problems.

So now to see what’s new (noting that this is not a release at all, so I am expecting bugs and a completely unpolished product):

– Once open, FD3 looks very similar to the layout of FD2 except slightly slicker. A little more gray that once was white and an added gradient to the toolbar.

– The tabs on the documents have a corner bent down instead of the straight squares they were in FD2 which makes it a little more obvious which tab is on top. Speaking of tabs, when you click to drag one the page turns blue with 5 icons in the center. What I’ve discovered is that if you drag the tab into one of the icons the page tries to fill the related section of the interface; top icon fills the top half of the document interface, left fills left half, etc, with center filling the entire document interface again. Notice I said “tries to fill”, it doesn’t currently work but the blue area shows what is intended.

– The Find tool looks to have been improved significantly. No longer is there a separate Replace tool, it has been combined into the default Find (Ctrl+F). It has also added an additional dropdown, “Look in”. Look in has the choices of “Full Source Code”, “Code and Strings”, “Comments Only”, and “Strings Only”.

– (Ctrl+I) still brings up the Find in Files, but this seems to have improved even more than the Find tool. First it also adds Replace so you can easily replace throughout several files. A results panel has also been added to the bottom of the tool so you can easily see all of the found files and easily open them without going to the Results panel at the bottom of FD.

– You no longer have to have a project open to get code completion. It seems to work just as well on an individual as file.

– A very cool feature that I stumbled upon and loved in PrimalScript is a built in browser! If you go to help and click on “FlashDevelop Home”, the FD forum will load up in a new tab right in the interface.

– Under help there is a new link added as well, “Online Documentation”. Looks like eventually we might have true documentation for FD 🙂 The link (which hasn’t added any real documentation yet) is: http://www.flashdevelop.org/wikidocs/index.php/Main_Page.

– File New adds the ability to choose the type of file you want to create, including different files for as3 and as2. It looks like you will be able to customize the default template of each eventually as well, but not positive at this point.

– Nothing seems to have been added to the Project panel yet. Can’t wait for this one.

– Not seeing anything about svn or cvs integration.

– Quick MTASC Build is now called Quick Build. I’m assuming we’ll be able to use it for mtasc builds for as2 and ant builds for as3, but not positive just guessing.

– A new tool has been added, “Application Files”. Not exactly sure what it does yet, but it seems to default to opening up the FirstRun directory in an explorer window.

– Global Classpaths is removed from the Tools menu.

– All of the windows just seem so much nicer and more organized. A good example is the Program Settings window. It’s no longer just a long list, but nicely sectioned off with shorter more standard names. Still no settings for code coloring, but we can hope.

– The panel on the right has added a Layouts tab, which I’m not sure about yet and the ActionScript tab has been renamed Outline which makes more sense. Maybe it will support other languages as well.

And that about covers it for now. There will definitely be more to talk about once the Project Panel supports as3 and flex… which looking at the TODO doc seems to be one of the major things left to implement. All in all it seems to be really shaping up and I can’t wait until they release an actual alpha version to the public. Good job guys!

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