SapphireSteel Software: The Blog
the blog

Sapphire 3 - Ruby goes visual!

by Huw Collingbourne
Successor to Ruby In Steel
Monday 1 September 2014.

SapphireSteel Software has now launched its third-generation Ruby IDE for Visual Studio.

Sapphire 3 is the successor to Ruby In Steel. In addition to editing, project management and debugging it now adds the ability to create drag-and-drop user interfaces with the new ’RubyForms’ designer. This short video provides a quick overview of the features of Sapphire...

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Learn Ruby Programming (the easy way) - special offer!

by Huw Collingbourne
Save money on my multimedia eLearning courses
Thursday 4 July 2013.

The eLearning revolution has really taken off recently. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been teaching the top-selling Ruby programming courses on the hugely successful Udemy eLearning site.

Over 3,600 students have learnt to program Ruby with my Ruby Beginners Course. Many of them have gone on to explore the language in more depth with my Advanced Ruby Course. The regular cost is $99 per course, making a grand total of $198 for both.

But if you want to learn Ruby from the ground up, I have some good news. I’ve put together a special deal that will let you get my Advanced Ruby Course for FREE! Just sign up to the Ruby Beginners Course at the regular price and you will automatically have complete access to the Advanced Ruby Course too.

That’s a saving of $99.

But that’s not all. As an added bonus, I am also throwing in a FREE subscription to my course, Break Into The Programming Business which guides you through the world of programming and gives you an insight into ways of expanding your programming career. Bought separately, these courses would cost you $237. But with this deal, you can get ALL THREE COURSES for just $99.

That’s a saving of $138 off their regular prices.

You get full, unlimited access to all the courses - including many hours of video tutorials, eBooks and ready-to-run source code.

Note: These courses can be used to learn Ruby on any operating system - Windows, OS X, Linux - and using any Ruby-enabled editor or IDE. You do not need to be a user of SapphireSteel Software’s Ruby IDEs (Ruby In Steel or Sapphire).

Grab yourself a bargain today. Click HERE to read more about The Ultimate Ruby Programming Bundle.

To sign up to all three courses and save $138, click the Redeem It link under the Buy Now button and enter this code: RUBYCOMPLETE

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Amethyst 2 Semantic error checking

by Huw Collingbourne
Green squiggles spot potential problems
Tuesday 2 July 2013.

Sometimes your code may cause problems even when it is syntactically correct. If, for example, you accidentally use the same name for a local variable as for a parameter or if you use = to assign a value when you had intended to use == to test a value. Amethyst 2’s new semantic error checking can help you spot this type of mistake before it causes a problem. This video gives a brief overview...

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ActionScript Scratchpad - new in Amethyst 2 Ultimate

by Huw Collingbourne
save notes, methods and searches
Wednesday 12 June 2013.

The new Amethyst Scratchpad gives you a panel for saving useful information such as notes, methods and searches. This video provides a quick overview...

Be sure to watch the other videos in the Amethyst 2 Playlist on YouTube!

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ActionScript Call-tree Debugger - new in Amethyst 2

by Huw Collingbourne
It’s all done with bubbles!
Sunday 9 June 2013.

We are really excited about our new Cylon 2 debugger in Amethyst. This really takes debugging to a whole new level!

The Cylon 2 debugger lets you trace through a linked call-graph of methods. When one method calls another one, a bubble pops up to contain the called method with a linked arrow to show which method called it. This video gives you a quick taster....

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Flash and Flex Design in Amethyst 2

by Huw Collingbourne
Introducing Flash Forms
Tuesday 4 June 2013.

Adobe FlashBuilder has actually removed its user interface designer. Amethyst 2 Ultimate goes to the other extreme - by extending its Designer for use with standard Flash, as well as Flex.

This video gives a brief overview of the Amethyst 2 Designers for both Flex and Flash.

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Amethyst 2 - our new Flash IDE (video)

by Huw Collingbourne
visual design for Flex & Flash, Cylon 2 call-tree debugger and more...
Tuesday 28 May 2013.

We just recorded this short video to show a few of the features of our newly released Flash and Flex IDE, Amethyst 2.

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Amethyst 2 Launches - visual Flash and Flex

by SapphireSteel Software
Plus many new tools!
Tuesday 21 May 2013.

SapphireSteel Software has today released Amethyst 2 Ultimate, the only truly ‘visual’ IDE for Flex, Flash and ActionScript developers.

Visually design Flash, Flex and AIR applications using the Amethyst Designer. The new ’Flash Forms’ (Flash without Flex) Designer is shown above.

When Adobe removed the visual designer from Flash Builder 4.7, Flex developers who needed a visual design tool were left stranded. Whereas Flash Builder has removed its Flex visual Designer, Amethyst 2 has actually extended its visual design support. It now not only has a drag-and-drop Designer for Flex; it also has a ‘pure Flash’ Designer to support form-based design (with similar capabilities to Windows Forms in C#) for Flash applications that don’t use Flex.

Amethyst 2 Ultimate – also includes numerous other innovative tools for ActionScript and Flash developers. These include:

- a unique ‘bubble-based’ debugger that lets developers step through code in the form of linked call-graphs with each called function shown in a separate popup ‘bubble’
- a Graphical profiler that analyses the efficiency of a running program and displays a memory map.
- the Developer Scratchpad – a docked panel to store code snippets or even selected methods in popup ‘bubbles’
- SWF obfuscator – no need to buy a separate tool to protect your code; Amethyst has one built in.

Amethyst 2 Ultimate includes a revolutionary ’bubble-based’ debugger (above) which allows you to step through a linked network of debug bubbles as you trace function calls while debugging.

Amethyst 2 Ultimate builds upon the existing features of Amethyst 1. It has the most extensive editing and debugging features available for Flash and Flex developers. The multi-window editor has code collapsing, extensive refactoring, 76 code colour options and fast IntelliSense. It can be used to design, debug and deploy applications for the web, the desktop or mobile devices.

For more information see the Amethyst 2 Product Page and the Amethyst 2 Feature List.

Pricing and Availability

Amethyst 2 Ultimate sells for $299 USD. A free 30-day Trial is available. At the end of the Trial period, the software degrades to Amethyst Personal (a free, limited feature version of the software) unless a licence is purchased. Registered users of Amethyst 1 Professional may upgrade for $99.

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The Amethyst 2 Profiler

by Dermot Hogan
New product, new tools
Monday 13 May 2013.

Profiling a Flash application allows you to see which functions are consuming most CPU and, in addition, detect memory leaks. Memory leaks can be quite insidious in Flash as it’s quite easy to allocate, say, an event handler and forget about it

In Amethyst 2, we’ve added a powerful profiling tool that not only allows you to see the amount of memory being used but to track down memory leaks easily. So, to demonstrate this, I’ve created some code that clearly has a memory leak. In the code below, every time a new C4 object is created, a 4MB chunk of memory is allocated and never freed.

Every time a button is clicked a new C4 object is created:

To demonstrate this, I just start the profiler from the Visual Studio Amethyst menu:

The project is built (if required) and launched. After clicking the button a few times, the CPU table looks this this:

And you can see that the C4 constructor and the writeInt method are high on the list. Next, let’s have a look at the Objects table. This gives a view of how many objects of a given class were allocated and how much memory was allocated. Here, you can see that the ByteArray class is the main culprit.

After a few dozen clicks, you can clearly see that we’ve got a problem as shown by the Memory Graph:

But to track this down, we need another tool – the Data Snapshot. A ‘snapshot’ grabs data on all the objects allocated in the Player at a given time. And I do mean all – which makes a snapshot by itself difficult to work with. There’s simply too much data. You can filter out some of the data using the Amethyst profiler ‘filter’ (of which more later). But a much better way to track down memory leaks is to take another snapshot and difference them after some action, such as clicking a button.

Here’s the result of taking another snapshot after two button clicks, and then differencing the two snapshots. You can see the two objects that are new in the second snapshot in the Delta snapshot. Clicking on one of these objects in the tree displays the call stack, and this can then be used to navigate to the source code via a context menu as show here.

The data can be controlled by using a set of ‘filters’. Using these, you can include, for example, all objects starting with flash.utils and exclude everything starting with spark. If you update a filter, it is immediately applied to the incoming data from the target SWF being profiled – you don’t need to restart the profiler.

The filters and other Profiler parameters, such as the memory sampling interval for the graph are accessed and set via a standard Visual Studio property page. These are persisted in the project file for use next time.

This is a preview of the forthcoming version of Amethyst 2 – our ActionScript/Flash IDE for Visual Studio 2012 and 2010. If you buy Amethyst 1.0 for Visual Studio 2010 now you will be entitled to a free update to Amethyst 2 when it is released. See the Amethyst 2012 announcement for more information.

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Amethyst 2 - Conditional Compilation for ActionScript

by Dermot Hogan
Now more like C#
Friday 12 April 2013.

One of the nice things about C# is that is has good conditional compilation support. ActionScript does support conditional compilation but the syntax isn’t great. In Amethyst 2 we have implemented a C# like syntax for conditional compilation.

Conditional compilation gives you the ability to exclude or include chunks of code at compile time. So in C#, you could say

if (x) {
// do something
} else {
// do something else

This is executed at run time and the code inside the if statement will be run or not depending on whether x is true.

But you can also do this

#if X
// do something
// do something else

Here, the ‘do something’ code will only be compiled if the X symbol is defined. Otherwise the ‘do something else’ code will be compiled in. In other words, it’s done at compile time not run time.

ActionScript does allow conditional compilation, but the syntax is peculiar to say the least. For example,

CONFIG::debugging {
// debugging code here.

and you define the constant in the compiler’s arguments like this


In Amethyst 2, we’ve implemented a scheme similar to C#, but using just #if, #else and #endif and with no arithmetic – just ’is the symbol defined’ or not.

The text not included is greyed out in the Editor:

You set the symbols to be ‘defined’ in the compilation options

Note that the options are configuration dependent, so that you can have code included or excluded for, say, Release or Debug configurations.

Clearly, the #if, etc., syntax isn’t ActionScript and so if you export it to another IDE or use just the basic Adobe compilers you will have problems. However, even allowing for that we still think that it’s much nicer to have the #if syntax rather than something like //#if - and that’s what we’ve used.

This is a preview of the forthcoming version of Amethyst 2 – our ActionScript/Flash IDE for Visual Studio 2012 and 2010. If you buy Amethyst 1.0 for Visual Studio 2010 now you will be entitled to a free update to Amethyst 2 when it is released. See the Amethyst 2012 announcement for more information.

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