Has the compiler been updated in Flash CS4?

The majority of the time I use MXMLC and COMPC to compile my work via ANT tasks. Most of my work is Actionscript only projects so I rarely use the Flash IDE compiler. 

Once in a while I find myself in the Flash IDE, mainly because I am working with an artists files, or I need to set up something on the timeline with document classes, or templated swfs that designers can base their work on. What I hate is the lack of compiler options in the IDE. Why can’t some of the command line compile options be available in the IDE?. Simple options like -load-externs, -link-report, externs, -external-library-path, -include-libraries, -includes, -library-path, -runtime-shared-libraries, and -source-path (to name a few).

With CS3 you can place a swc in the same directory as the FLA and use that for compile time checking and excluding classes in the compiled swf but this doesn’t work in most workflows. Why can’t I point at a shared swc outside of my project? A lot of our work runs in a global framework and for the most part designers don’t care about the framework or when it changes. If the designers could point at a swc on the server that can be updated at any time or in one common directory pulled out of source control they would recieve the updates and compile time checking without even knowing. You should be able to point to any swc or even a swc directory (again, like in Flex Builder).

Flash 8 had exclude.xml at least, even that would be a nice touch if that was offered again. I haven’t been able to find if any of this has been added to CS4, most of the discussion is around the visual tools. I’m ok with that, the designers deserve the love, the last release was all about the developer, AS3. Just curious if anyone knows if the compilation and workflow in the IDE is any better? I know about XFL, and I am excited to start playing with that. I already have a few ideas for workflow improvements.

 Also, Adobe if you’re reading this, can you please add an omit trace statements option in the command line compilers. I know it can be done with ANT and some RegEx trickery but it shouldn’t be that difficult. </endOfRant>


  1. Have a look at the latest video by Lee Brimelow (http://www.gotoandlearn.com/play?id=87) where he runs through the latest features of the Flash IDE (he obviously has been granted a beta version of the software from Adobe).

    There are LOTS of stuff added to this release but specifically for the developers there are some compiler options (as far as I understand what Lee was saying in his video, things like linking to external libraries and also SWC files – it *looked* a lot like Flex compiling options but I’m not greatly experienced with Flex Builder so I could be mistaken).

    Lee’s video is mainly designer stuff rather than developer but it’s still interesting (I was more interested in the developer section – which he VERY briefly covers near the end of the video).

    Hope this helps, let us know your thoughts!


  2. Hi Scott,
    I agree with you, but exclude.xml was a hack to say the least. To get anything moderately useful you had to mess around with JSFL. What I really would like to see is ANT integration, so that I can build a project with many Fla files without using JSFL. Not that JSFL is so bad, it’s just another thing I have to learn, whereas ANT would be fine.
    So ANT and a flexible exclusion mechanism please!

  3. Thanks Mark, I hadn’t seen Lee’s video yet. Definitely some imporvments now with gProject panel incorporated. One of the issues I mentioned above appears to be fixed, you can add custom swc paths to the project. No longer does the swc have to live in the same folder as the fla.

  4. Jeff Carnes

    Actually, Scott, you can have a SWC that lives anywhere, it doesn’t have to be with the FLA, just in the source path (which is why it works being next to the FLA – default source path).

    The Backpack works like this to compile against our SWCs if you don’t believe me 😉

    The big problem is that by default, Flex compiles SWCs that are incompatible with Flash. I’m going to try to put a blog post up about it this weekend, because I haven’t seen any posts that nail down all of the issues.

    Ariel – check out http://fluant.riaforge.com for an Ant task to compile FLAs. I badly need to put out an update for it, but I know some people who use it in their daily workflows, so it should suffice for now.

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