Flash Builder wishes

Everybody wants to change the world. And every developer wants something their tools don’t provide. I’m mostly a happy camper when it comes to Flash/Flex Builder – it allows me to do my job with little fuss. And if there is something that taints the experience  I can just think of the Flash IDE – which immediately makes Flex shine again. But even so there are a couple of things that could lighten the day:

Super quick bookmarks
I need to jump around in the code when debugging or adding functionality to existing code. In venerable SE|PY, I could click once in the left hand margin to set bookmarks. In Flex I have to select text, context click and save.  Too much! I just need a quick way to navigate between a bunch of methods.

What about my parents?
Complex frameworks often entails extended classes to avoid duplicate code. But remembering in which class of the inheritance chain a method is defined can be hard. What about an option that lets you view all the inherited methods as well? In the same code view, but with colour coded backgrounds to make it possible to see at a glance where the method hails from. And with navigation to go into the actual class the inherited method was defined in. When trying to familiarise (or re-familiarise) myself with code sets, this would make the task much easier.

The Declarations and References search tools introduced in FB3 are a good idea, but they are slow and clunky. This information should be available instantly, either through context icons or context sensitive views – select a method – the content of the view changes.

Complex formulas
Formulas for placing and scaling graphic elements can grow to be quite complex – I do this frequently and so far, the only way to make it more readable is to split it up over several lines, making the steps towards the final answer easier to decipher when I have to change or debug the code six months later. At that point everything is forgotten and I have a hard time remembering what I did or why.

But why can’t the code editor show formulas as you would write them on paper? Instead of one long line suited to computers, we could view fractions as numbers above and below lines. I usually write out formulas that way on paper and ‘translate’ into code when I think I’ve got it. I found this example from TUAW: which is how achieve this on a mac. Imagine how much easier it would be to read formula-heavy code if FB could show it to us this way?



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August 2009
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