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Adobe Flex Development in Visual Studio

Enter Amethyst
by Huw Collingbourne
Monday 1 December 2008.

SapphireSteel Software is today announcing the forthcoming release of Amethyst, a new IDE for the development of rich internet and desktop applications using Adobe Flex and AIR.

Amethyst will be available in two editions:

Amethyst Personal Edition (Free)

Amethyst Personal is a free Flex/AIR IDE [1] which will provide a project management, editing, building and launching environment for Flex/AIR/ActionScript. This will be completely free and may optionally be installed into the free Visual Studio ‘shell’ edition.

Amethyst Professional (Commercial)

Amethyst Professional will provide a drag+drop visual design environment for Flex and AIR. The visual designer will integrate with Visual Studio’s Toolbox, Property panels and code editor to provide a seamless design-and-code experience which will be familiar to C# and VB developers.

Amethyst Professional will also include full IntelliSense capabilities including code completion, code navigation and auto-expanding snippets. Amethyst Professional will provide IntelliSense both derived from pre-compiled libraries and ‘on-the-fly’ by analysing code as it is written. It will have a powerful integrated debugger to allow you to step through your code, drill-down and examine variables in a similar way to the debugger in other Visual Studio languages.

Amethyst builds upon SapphireSteel Software’s expertise in the creation of the Visual Studio Ruby on Rails IDE, Ruby In Steel. While Amethyst is not specifically targeted at Ruby developers, Amethyst projects will optionally integrate with Ruby In Steel projects to provide the ability to create Flex and AIR applications for Ruby on Rails (as well as other Visual Studio supported technologies such as C# and ASP).

- Availability

Amethyst Personal (beta) will be available from this site in the 2nd week of December 2008.

Amethyst Professional will be released in beta in the first quarter of 2009 and the final version is expected to ship in the 2nd quarter.

[1] Adobe®, ActionScript®, AIR ® and Flex® are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries

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  • Web Service Code Generation
    16 October 2009, by Akash

    In FlexBuilder we use WebService code generation, without which Amethyst will be of very little help. However using MXML inside VS provides tight integration with Team Suit and that is needed badly today. If you can provide facility to import WSDL and generate custom classes out of WSDL that will be of great help.

    • Web Service Code Generation
      16 October 2009, by Dermot Hogan

      Currently we dont support WSDL or generate code from it.

      However, the easy way to do what you want (I think) is to use FlexBuilder’s WSDL import wizard to generate the classes and a FlexBuilder project and then use the Amethyst import wizard to import from that project and create a Visual Studio/Team Server project. You can keep the Flexbuilder and Amethyst projects ’side-by-side’ in the same project structure without them interfering with one another. If you are just generating from WSDL to initiate a project which you then modify by adding ActionScript then I think this would work well - but it you are constantly regenerating from WSDL, then it might prove more difficult.

      Overall, it’s not too difficult for us to support WSDL. Essentially, we would use a simple Visual Studio wizard to grab the WSDL file and set some options and incorporate a modified Axis2 Java generator (obviously generating ActionScript not Java) similarly to the Adobe approach.

      The problem for us is to estimate the likely demand for such a feature. While it’s not difficult to do, it is some more work and we have to decide where our efforts should be directed. I currently have no feeling for how widely this feature is used in FlexBuilder.

      I’ll think about it a bit more.


      • Web Service Code Generation
        9 June 2010

        The ability to generate a proxy class from the WSDL would be a huge help to us. We have FLEX front ends that were developed outside our company that we now need to modify.

        • Web Service Code Generation
          11 June 2010, by Dermot Hogan

          Somebody else asked for this sometime ago.

          We’re not planning to do anything on this before we release the first version of Amethyst, but we’ll consider it for a future update. It isn’t that difficult to do, but whether we do it depends if there is sufficient demand out there.


  • Adobe Flex Development in Visual Studio
    5 February 2009

    Please tell me there is a way to make the IntelliSense case-insensitive! Case-sensitive IntelliSense makes this plug-in worthless, especially for us ActionScript/Flex noobs.

    • Adobe Flex Development in Visual Studio
      5 February 2009, by Huw Collingbourne

      We’ll try and get this into the next beta. There will be a great many changes and additions to IntelliSense before the final release so please feel free to draw our attention to the features you need most... ;-)

      best wishes


  • Adobe Flex Development in Visual Studio
    7 December 2008

    I like it, look forward to see how things turn out. It seems to me that Adobe should have partnered with SaphireSteel instead of Ensemble for Visual Studio.

  • Adobe Flex Development in Visual Studio
    2 December 2008, by someguy

    So does this means I could use Amethyst Personal alongside the Flex SDK without having to pay for Flex builder or go through the lengthy configuration to get Eclipse working with the SDK?

    • Adobe Flex Development in Visual Studio
      4 December 2008, by Huw Collingbourne

      Amethyst does not require Flex Builder or Eclipse. You’ll need the free Flex SDK, Visual Studio (the free edition will do) and Amethyst. Then you will be able to develop Flex applications.

      best wishes


      • Adobe Flex Development in Visual Studio
        5 December 2008

        So will the Personal Edition of Amethyst have a Flex/AIR form designer and debugger? Looks like those features (and including drag-dop) is only on the commercial version. If the commercial version cost a fraction of Flex Builder (< US$100) then it’s viable; any more than that will be expensive because you have to factor the cost of purchasing Visual Studio (Standard or Pro) to be comparable to Flex Builder 3. VS license cost money too. VS 2008 Free Edition cannot be use as a comparable product (it has a number of missing features too).

        • Adobe Flex Development in Visual Studio
          5 December 2008, by Huw Collingbourne

          Amethyst PE will, when version 1.0 releases, have code completion and debugging - but not in the first beta. We’ll give more details of the features in development after Amethyst PE beta 1 is released.

          The pricing of the Professional Edition has not yet been decided. The free edition of Visual Studio has everything required to support the features of Amethyst PE and Professional as well as Ruby In Steel. The main deficiencies of the free Edition are that it does not include all the Microsoft languages. But if developers need those languages, I think it’s reasonable to assume that they already have a commercial copy of Visual Studio ;-)

        • Adobe Flex Development in Visual Studio
          5 December 2008, by Huw Collingbourne

          Oh, and in answer to your other question: no, the visual designer will not be part of the free edition.

          • Adobe Flex Development in Visual Studio
            12 March 2009

            So, what will be the differences between Amethyst and Flexbuilder? What can be done with one that can’t be done with the other?

            I *abhor* Eclipse, BTW.

            • Adobe Flex Development in Visual Studio
              12 March 2009, by Huw Collingbourne

              There are, of course, many things that are Visual Studio specific. For example, the Amethyst debugger has the same kind of hover-and-drilldown debugging that you’ll find in C#. Other tools such as IntelliSense, the object browser, expanding code snippets, configurable code formatting etc. will all match the features people expect from Visual Studio. Add into the mix the ability to create mixed language solutions (e.g. Flex/ASP or Flex/Rails using Ruby In Steel) and you will have a distinctly different environment from Flex Builder. As Andrew Shorten (an Adobe evangelist) has already noted, even our visual designer will be substantially different from Flex Builder:

              It’s interesting to see that rather than just implementing equivalent Flex Builder features like-for-like, Amethyst is adding new features


              In short, if you want a Visual Studio Flex IDE that makes use of the Visual Studio tools and technologies, Amethyst is for you. If you need a cross-platform environment or prefer the Eclipse way of doing things, Flex Builder would be your first choice.

              best wishes


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