Friday, November 05, 2010

IDE Showdown Summary

My presentation at MAX went well. I just wanted to do a wrap-up to put this baby to rest so I can get back to focusing on tutorials. Also, any future “IDE” posts will be more about demonstrating features or general news rather than comparing one against another (at least that’s the plan).

So, in conclusion:

FlashBuilder ($699 for Premium: Windows and Mac) – Use FlashBuilder if you’re dependant on Adobe’s workflow. Having simple solutions around Catalyst, Flash Pro, AIR for Android, etc, are all your #1 priority

FDT ($699 for MAX: Windows, Mac, and Linux) – Use FDT if you build many Flash sites in a short amount of time. Speed is the key, so project templates, set-up time, and “quick fixes” are your power tools

IntelliJ ($599 for Commercial: Windows, Mac, and Linux) – Use IntelliJ if you’re on big projects that last months with large teams. IntelliJ’s refactoring tools, history tools, multiple language support, and much more make it a powerhouse for keeping your big machine running smoothly.

FlashDevelop (Free and Open-Source: Windows only) – Install FlashDevelop now. You’ll love it. The most responsive and light-weight of all the editors and you can take the source and extend it to your heart’s content. It might not be as fully-featured as other editors, but it’s darn close.

Realaxy ($99 Windows, Mac, and Linux) – Use Realaxy if you’re the type of guy who sees the value of language-oriented programming. If you’re expecting the same old IDE features, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re expecting a revolution in the way you think about code (for better or for worse), then you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Amethyst ($249 Windows) – Use Amethyst if Design View is critical to your workflow and you’re already set up shop around Visual Studio.

This is all subject to change over the next year, so maybe I’ll do a state-of-the-IDE address at the end of each year. But until then, keep having fun defending your preferred IDE :)


  1. Henrique Vilela1:12 PM

    So... no free recommendations for us, Mac users? :)

  2. seantheflexguy2:18 PM

    I'm pretty sure NetBeans also has some level of Flex support. I haven't used it for Flex dev but it's pretty solid for Java. I suspect the Flex support is decent.

  3. johnlindquist2:21 PM

    Sounds cool, but I've never heard of anyone using NetBeans for Flex (and I've asked a lot of people about IDEs) :)

  4. I have try it!

    FORGET it doesnt compare to FDT or FB...

    It's horrible... It's like a advanced XML tool...

  5. I am still doing a big comparison between my two favorites IDE in their last versions: FDT4 and IntellijIdea X. Here is what I came to so far:
    FDT4, till now it is still my favourite:
    GOOD: Project Templates, code templates, Quick fix, Flash Integration at maximum level, the PROFILER (gorgeous!)
    BAD: eclipse architecture make it heavy weight and slow, too poor refactoring features.
    GOOD: refactoring heaven (wonderful!), Quickfix (or intentions) faster then FDT and sometimes working better but you have to go to the word you want to fix (in FDT you can simply go to the line, it's faster), multi language support, but the must is that it is not eclipse based, so it is really super fast and light weight compared to FDT.
    BAD: not so flash integrated still, no project templates as in FDT, slightly difficult to use, I still found some actionscript code inspection bugs (i.e. this["item"+n].someValue signed as an error). NO PROFILER.

    In conclusion: i totally agree with John's conclusions, FDT is still preferred for pure Flash/flex coding and Flash based projects, but intellij is filling the gap and offers some unique features and cross language support.

    The best IDE would be FDT transported to Intellij "not eclipse based" environment ;)

  6. johnlindquist4:03 PM

    I think you're the first person I've ever heard call IntelliJ "super fast and light weight" :)

    And fyi, IntelliJX will have fixed the bugs you've seen and will have a profiler for the final release before the end of the year.

  7. Well, compared to eclipse it is really super fast and less memory consumpting! And no "building workspace..." gap at all !:) I know that they will fix the bugs, I've also done a request for a project/module template feature like in FDT. Didn't know about the profiler, i mean, i knew about a plugin in developement, but nothing else...

  8. Joa Ebert6:49 AM

    A fair comparison I would say. However I do not get what your performance problems with IntelliJ IDEA are. Especially the X EAP has balzing fast auto completion support. Also you did not mention any enterprise features like Maven integration.



  9. johnlindquist7:07 AM

    I have no performance problems with IntelliJ, but I've heard plenty of people who do (maybe it's because they're just not accustomed to the keyboard shortcuts or that it doesn't perform well on slower computers, I don't know).

    Once "X" finally releases later this year, I'll do a full write-up of IntelliJ. I tried really hard to keep my bias hidden during my presentation (I am on the jetbrains academy too) :)

  10. John, trying out IntelliJ and so far VERY impressed. Any idea how to turn off anitaliasing in OSX for IntelliJ? For Flex builder I would simply drop the following in the terminal
    defaults write com.adobe.flexbuilder AppleAntiAliasingThreshold 20
    defaults write com.adobe.flexbuilder AppleSmoothFixedFontsSizeThreshold 20

  11. johnlindquist11:27 AM

    I don't know. Have you googled for an answer?

  12. Am working on an AIR based IDE, which still is under dev, but it's very very very quick. Feels like a native app.

    The upshot here is that you can quickly apply your Flash/Flex skills & extend it.
    All 'heavy lifting' is done by the SDK tools, except for autocompletion. (threads, pleeaase).