For Adobe Flex: Looking at eclipse in a New Light

Buy this book at!My Adobe Flex machinations from the last 15th and the last 13th of this month caused me to reevaluate my eclipse strategy. The new Europa release under the Web Standards Tools Project 2.0.x is a great start and only needs the PHP Development Tools of the PDT Project to get me positioned for my Flex-related eclipse tweaks. So to summarize my ‘base package’ from the eclipse foundation is this:

Note that I elect to download the packages instead of using the Update Manager because the Update Manager is not complimented with an uninstall feature (or eclipse cannot be automatically “rolled back” to previous states). This lack means that I am forced to turn to the file system to manage eclipse—so why not be there from jump?

And speaking of the eclipse file system, these are my important notes about eclipse filing conventions:

  • What eclipse calls a “Workspace” is a folder used to store Project metadata and resources. (It is important to remember that the Resource Perspective is the default Perspective in eclipse—not a Java Perspective—this information will come in handy for my Flex2 projects.) In my (other) world of Microsoft Visual Studio, the “Solution” is the equivalent of the eclipse “Workspace.” Both of these constructs provide a grouping container for the Project.
  • One of the most important Project metadata folders is (in Linux) the .metadata/.plugins/org.eclipse.core.runtime/.settings folder under the given workspace. Here, most of the *.prefs files are kept—where the most detailed of my editor settings are kept.
  • The File > Import > Select an import source: Existing Projects into Workspace command simply copies a project from an ‘external’ location into the active Workspace folder. Open the File > New > Project… > Wizards: General folder and select Project to generate a Resource Project.
  • See “eclipse 3.x SDK (WTP): Editing the Recent Workspaces List for the Select a Workspace Dialog.”

Now, for the Flex tweaks (this is based on the assumption that you have downloaded the free Flex2 SDK from Adobe):

  • Do not use the ASDT plug-in until it fully supports ActionScript 3.0! Use the EclipseColorer plugin instead! I really can’t use any more exclamation marks on this one! The EclipseColorer plugin supports ActionScript!
  • Configure eclipse to recognize *.mxml as an XML type. See “Setting up Eclipse for Flex”—you might need to pick up the schema for Content Assist at
  • Install flex2ant to automate builds against the Flex2 SDK from Adobe.
  • Use the default Resource Perspective type for open source Flex2 projects in eclipse! See the picture at right for a view toward this practice.
  • Add the *.swf file association to the Web Browser under Window > Preferences > General > Editors > File Associations. When you find this unsatisfying, something like flashout might help.
  • Unfortunately, I am unable to toggle spellchecking on and off without going deep into the Preferences… dialog.

When you switch from the Resource Perspective to the PHP Perspective you might see red squares instead of recognizable file icons for *.as files. When you go to the file system (again) to check the .log file you might see stuff like this:

!ENTRY org.eclipse.php.ui 4 10001 2007-11-20 00:18:03.330
!MESSAGE Image data not available: URLImageDescriptor(bundleentry://509/icons/full/obj16/jcu_resource_obj.gif)

For several hours I assumed that this error came from me uninstalling ASDT and breaking something. This error came up again for me with a clean install! This ‘forced’ me to make a new flex workspace, separate from the php one.

Download my first framework Flex2 sample for eclipse at

The Day’s Table of eclipse/Flex Resources

Getting Friendly with Eclipse Workspaces

Darron Schall writes, “I can’t believe I didn’t know about this 2 years ago.”

This article (and the comments) introduces me to the ongoing ‘controversy’ among eclipse people about Working Sets vs. Workspaces.

Upgrading Eclipse Peter Hendriks is basically telling me that one really can’t upgrade eclipse.
Eclipse: Managing Multiple Eclipse Installations This article delves into the possibilities after one realizes eclipse is not upgradeable.
Compiling Flex Applications in Eclipse This is the Todd Sharp article that introduced me to flex2ant.
Setting Up Eclipse For Flex 2 This is the Todd Sharp article that told me where to find the MXML schema—since it is no longer available from Adobe.
Tutorial: Beginners Guide to Getting Started with AS3 (Without Learning Flex) This is the article that let me really know the flex compiler better than ever. You don’t have to agree to not “learning flex” to read this article.