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IntelliJ IDEA Supports Flex Development

by Moxie Zhang on Apr 21, 2008 |

JetBrains' IntelliJ IDEA is one of Java developers' the most favorite development IDEs. The recent IntelliJ IDEA 7.0.3 release includes some new features supports Flex application development. To understand how Flex RIA developers can utilize InitelliJ's new features, InfoQ spoke with Ann Oreshnikova, marketing director of JetBrains.

Since Adobe already has had Eclipse based Flex Builder, what's the major goal for JetBrains' offering Flex features in IntelliJ IDEA? Oreshnikova answered:

Actually, we looked for ActionScript language as the next generation of JavaScript for which we already have significant coding support. It was a natural extension for us to provide smart code editing, completion, error highlighting and refactoring for this language.

On the major Flex features provided by IDEA:

These are most of the advanced editor features that have been already available in IntelliJ IDEA in support of Javascript coding. For example:

- syntax highlighting
- error highlighting with quick fixes for ActionScript and mxml files
- code completion and miscellaneous code editing aids
- find usages
- numerous refactorings
- code folding and code formatter
- structure view
- etc.

A more detailed description is available at http://www.jetbrains.com/idea/features/javascript_editor.html

are there features that are provided by IntlliJ IDEA but not in Flex Builder?

You know, to tell you the truth, we don't spend much time comparing features… But we have good reasons to believe that our strong focus on code editing capabilities is our unique and outstanding point. Such features as code refactoring and on-the-fly code analysis are definitely in the least of IntelliJ IDEA's benefits over Flex Builder.

Regarding the lack of the GUI designer view and if it's in future release, Oreshnikova explains:

Probably yes, but it will depend on the demand from our Flex users. We are tightly communicating with people using IntelliJ IDEA, and very often we define the features to be implemented based on their feedback. So, if we see a wide interest in a Flex graphical designer, we will definitely consider adding it.

There are very rich debugging and unit testing features for Java in IntelliJ IDEA. What's the plan for Flex development:

We surely have both in our plans. Moreover, the prototype debugger for Flex is currently under development, and some of its functionality is already available in the first Early Access Program build.

For enterprise oriented RIA development, Adobe has open source Blaze DS to integrate with Flex application. Is there any plan to provide such server integration inside IDEA for Flex application development?

Currently we do not have any particular vision, but we are considering this possibility and investigating this subject.

Regarding support for newly released Adobe AIR SDK, Oreshnikova confirmed:

Yes, we will support AIR in IntelliJ IDEA 8, but the exact plans are still under discussion.

How about Sun's JavaFX?

There is already a third-party plugin available that supports JavaFX. Same as with the Flex GUI designer, we are trying to gather some representative information on whether there is any significant demand for JavaFX support from our users

InfoQ learned that It was planned to have more Flex support as part of IntelliJ IDEA 8. According to the JetBrains' release schedule, it will appear by the end of the year, most likely late Fall.

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