A review of FDT, the Commercial Flash Eclipse Plugin

I had the chance to spend a bit of time playing with FDT this weekend, a commercial Eclipse plugin in development and wanted to share some thoughts.

IÂ’ve been an avid PrimalScript user for a while now, I wonÂ’t get into PrimalScript vs FDT discussion now as FDT is still in beta and so is PrimalScript 4.x. I also donÂ’t want to get into open-source vs commercial products. I am a firm believer that if a tool meets my needs and speeds up my workflow then the cost is usually negligible. At the end of the day it will always depend on your workflow/needs.

This isnÂ’t the first time I use Eclipse, IÂ’ve used it for Java work in the past and used it with ASDT (although I havenÂ’t been satisfied with it and have stuck with PrimalScript for my ActionScript editing needs). Eclipse is a great IDE with lots of built in functionality (Version Control Integration, a strong community of plug-ins, etc), and since FDT is built on top of Eclipse, you gain the benefits of an existing infrastructure.

Now onto the real reason you are here, how is FDT? There is a lot to like about FDT. First is its integration with Eclipse and how far along it is in comparison to ASDT. The powerflasher guys spent some good time on this and it shows. The good integration with Eclipse and Flash, the Flash Explorer, SWF Viewer, ease of compilation with Flash and MTASC, a good editor, help integration, and syntax checker. If you are using ASDT today and want to stay in Eclipse then FDT is exactly what you are looking for. With FDT there is no need to mess around with configuring Eclipse for Flash Development, just install FDT and youÂ’re pretty much there.

I also found myself discovering Eclipse all over again with FDT. I customized a lot of the shortcuts, the perspectives, and found a workflow in Eclipse that worked well for me. I do miss a couple of things in PrimalScript, the biggest of which is the performance of code-hinting which PrimalScript is really good at. Also PrimalScript generally included some useful shortcuts built-in that IÂ’ve grown accustomed to, but maybe there is a way for me to get the same in Eclipse that I haven’t discovered yet.

Again for now I donÂ’t want to make any judgments. I haven’t built anything from zero using FDT, just worked on some existing projects which has worked well so far. Maybe I’ll post more as I get some more time to work with FDT. There is a lot a lot to like about FDT, and probably a lot of it has to do with Eclipse. Being able to checkout code directly from Subversion, perform some changes, build (FDT makes this simple), then commit my changes all without leaving the tool is great. I can see this really improving team workflow as well as the live syntax checking. PrimalScript still seems to be better on the code-hinting side and generally is faster/more light-weight than Eclipse (not FDTÂ’s fault), although it currently doesnÂ’t provide any syntax checking mechanism.

Overall I feel more confident now about MacromediaÂ’s decision to adopt Eclipse as its development platform for their next generation RIA tool, ZORN. They will have the chance to re-use so much that is already there and solid in Eclipse.

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2 thoughts on “A review of FDT, the Commercial Flash Eclipse Plugin

  1. hi chafic,

    have you ever tried to work with primalscript + MTASC ?

    these days flash’s ultra-lengthy compiling time is really becoming a troube for me, so I’m think about it be better to edit using primalscript but compile with MTASC, do you think it’s possible ?

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