Saturday, June 19, 2010

Why Compare IDEs?

My next post will start the video series. I felt I needed one last introductory piece about the value of comparing IDEs.


Competition between IDEs is great for us developers. Competition pushes each of the IDEs to prove that their IDE is worth our hard-earned money. I’m intentionally adding fuel to this fire in the hopes that IDEs will stand up and take notice of where other IDEs excel and where they’re falling behind.

Awareness and Exposure

When I was teaching my Papervision3D classes over the past year I would typical have 30 students with the following break down:

  • 15 Students using Flash Professional
  • 10 Students using FlexBuilder
  • 3 Students using FlashDevelop
  • 2 Students using FDT

I would teach my classes using FlexBuilder simply because I could hand out a free demo, a workspace, and expect at least 1/3 of  the class was already set up. I would usually have the class ready and compiling examples within the first 30 minutes. Students who came in using Flash Professional were consistently blown away by the code editor features of FlexBuilder.

Also, it seems every agency/consultancy/client I’ve been to has relied on FlexBuilder as the editor they provide for their employees. I imagine it’s usually part of some bulk license agreement they make with Adobe, but  I can only speculate. I have zero hard facts/statistics beyond my own observations so I’m just going to assume FlexBuilder is the most popular ActoinScript IDE (I’m not including Flash Professional in these comparisons since it’s targeting design rather than development).


I hope to promote healthy discussion between developers of what the most important features are for your development setup. Throughout my career, I’ve switched between using Flash Professional, FlashDevelop, FDT, and IntelliJ as my primary editors and, as of today, I switch back and forth between FDT and IntelliJ.

Each developer has very different requirements for their environment. Some value Unit Testing above everything. Others value speed. Some worry above consistent experiences and code control across 30 person teams. Others work by themselves on 2-day-long mini-projects.

The best I can do is show off features of each of the editors and then let you decide what’s “best”. I highly encourage you to respond to and critique my upcoming videos. I love learning about features of IDEs that help make my job easier.


  1. Nikos7:41 AM

    Im trying out intellij right now :) will let you know :)

  2. Nikos8:39 AM

    Very interesting, after importing fb4 project in I noticed INT J didn't add anyting to the origininal FB project files :)

    Must keep the info in its installation

  3. Nikos9:16 AM

    opps theres a .idea folder, not much though

    pretty cool