Flex Builder 3 sneak preview

As I posted earlier, Wietse, Niels, and myself were walking around at Adobe Live Amsterdam yesterday.
One of the sessions we attended was Waldo Smeets his talk on Flex 3, during which he revealed a tip of the curtain by showing us some of the features that are present in the current build of the SDK.

One of the coolest things Waldo talked about, in my opinion, was the application profiler. This feature lets the developer watch the memory-usage of every object in a Flex-app. According to Waldo this would be a feature that would especially be used by advanced programmers who want to optimize memory-usage for every single object in an application.
Although this might be one situation in which to use this feature, I don’t entirely agree. A while ago I was working on a project where at one point I discovered that my application was sucking up cpu like crazy. When checking older versions I noticed that the memory-leak had been there for quite a while. Had I had the opportunity to use the application profiler feature I would’ve been able to locate the leak in the blink of an eye. Instead I had to comment out features one by one and test it over and over again until I located the bug. The application profiler would have definitely been a life-saver in this case.

Another neat feature is the massive ID replacement which allows you to search for occurences of a certain ID or instance within your Flex project, get the enlisted searchresults, and decide which ones you want to replace. Not a big feature, but I do think it’ll come in handy on a few occasions.

Waldo also announced that some of the Flex components will be optimized and improved. Although Waldo wasn’t really specific here, other than talking about an AdvancedDatagrid component (featuring multiple column selection), I am quite happy about this.
I really hope Adobe will be improving (or even better, rewriting) the ListBase class, which has been an enormous pain in the butt to use, and to rewrite too, since rewriting the ListBase class would consequently mean also rewriting its subclasses (i.e. List, DataGrid, TileList, etc) before you can reap the benefits..
As a quick sidenote Waldo mentioned that the Flex engineering team had evaluated including the Flex components in the next FlashPlayer version (because the simplest of animation in Flex already means ending up with a 140kb SWF because of working with the Flex component framework). Because of FlashPlayer filesize it was decided not to go with this approach..

Flex Builder 3 will also have an option for selecting the SDK version you want to use. I imagine this would come in useful when you are working on an old Flex 2 project that includes workarounds for bugs that are not present anymore in Flex 3, and thus might cause unexpected behaviour.

The last feature I wrote down in my notes is the ability to zoom in on the design-view in Flex Builder, I very seldom use the design-mode, but I guess it might come in handy when skinning your components.

To say the least, Waldo’s talk got me curious as to what they’re going to come up with on top of the features he already showed. Do note that the featured enlisted above may or may not be present in the final version of Flex Builder 3.

9 thoughts on “Flex Builder 3 sneak preview

  1. Cool writeup, thanks a lot. Yeah, I really was frustrated about the profiler not working as I hoped (it failed again this afternoon after it worked great when I tested in the speaker room this morning.. I just think this feature is a bit stage-affraid still 😉 ). But hey, I warned you upfront 😉 There’s still a bit more cool stuff to come which I couldn’t reveal, but keep an eye on labs.adobe.com

  2. Yes Sebastiaan Holtrop (from TFE) told me it had failed again the second day of Adobe Live A’dam, so I guess the app-profiler’s just a big fan of Murphy’s Law..

    Ironically, right now I’m trying to fix a memory-leak issue and I could really use the app-profiler for this.. But I guess I’ll just have to wait and get it done with the dreadful process of commenting out blocks of code.

    I hope to see you around next time I attend to a conference, and I’m really excited about whatever other new stuff will be in Flex 3..

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