A bunch of Flex Builder plugins is almost ready

I wanted to take a moment and share with you what’s cooking in the secret underground labs of Farata Systems. We are about to release Beta versions of several commercial plugins for Flex Builder, namely: Flex2Ant, Logger, DaoFlex, Flex2Doc and FlexBI. In this blog I’ll show you some screenshots from the first three.

1.  Flex2Ant

This plugin will automatically create an Ant  build file from your Flex Builder project. Just right-click on your project’s name and select  the option Generate Ant build file:

In a couple of seconds you’ll find two new files in your project – flex2ant-build.xml and flex2ant-config.xml:

Now, either right-click on the build file and perform the Ant build as shown below, or do it from a command line. Easy.

2. The Logger

Not only you do not need to depend on using trace() or  running the debug version of Flash Player, production support of your enterprise Flex applications becomes a lot easier and a lot less expensive.  I’m not even sure if Java developers  accustomed to log4j have such a plugin yet?  Check it out.  The logger has a pluggable view panel. You don’t like this one, no biggie – create your own.

Our Logger plugin automatically inserts the mxml tags or ActionScript code required for logging by using hot keys shown at the right bottom corner of the screen below:

And this is my favorite part. Visualize myself sitting with my laptop by the beach somewhere in Florida – I’m a proud member of the production support team for a Flex application deployed by my global client across the world.  Jennifer, the user from Alaska calls me saying that there is a problem with her application in production. I ask her to press Ctrl-Shift-Backspace, which pops up the Logger panel screen shown below.

Now I ask Jennifer (the end user) to change the default level to Debug and check off a couple of check boxes by the suspicious class names. At the bottom of the screen select Remote Logging option, enter the name of the destination (in this case RemoteLoggingPrivate) and the password and to start working with her application again.  The next step for me is to put my glass with  Margarita aside and watch Jennifer’s log messages directed at the specified destination (that’s right, RemoteLoggingPrivate).

Oops…What’s this? Dear corporate production managers, please stop throwing money at us. The logger is about to enter Beta.  I know, it’ll save you tons of money…Just give us another month or so.

3. The DaoFlex plugin

After seeing a huge success of our command line code generator utility DaoFlex for Flex and Java, we’ve decided to productionize it and create a Flex Builder plugin. Take a look:

Configure your database connection in the screen above in your Java project in Eclipse.  This project has a pretty simple Java class, say Employee.java that includes an SQL Select statement to be used in your CRUD Flex/Java application and a couple of more tags. The server deployment parameters are configured pretty easy (it’s Tomcat in our sample):

DaoFlex is a part of Java compilation/code generation process like Flex that spawns “generated” helper classes upon build to do mandane work, and this plugin will not only generate all required artifacts (Java classes, xml configuration files ActionScript and MXML), but will deploy the Java Web application under the specified server. We ran the Flex client of our CRUD Employee application right in Eclipse.

By default, DAOFlex plugin generates two sets of MXML (and configured destinations) – one if you want to use RemoteObject, and the other if you prefer to use the DataService tag.  It took me longer to write this short description of DaoFlex plugin then generate the entire application.

That’s all for today. How much? We’ll announce the prices of the above components next month, but I can just say that they’ll be very inexpensive for individual Flex developers, more expensive for  Enterprise customers, but still cheaper than purchasing a Flex Builder license.

A blog on Flex2Doc – plugin and community site for documentation generator/context search on Flex projects from IDE/Eclipse help generator is coming tomorrow. And I can’t wait till February, when we’ll  start showing off our most advanced  reporting designer/databound control editor FlexBI.

Yours truly,
Yakov Fain

14 thoughts on “A bunch of Flex Builder plugins is almost ready

  1. What about a plugin that generates getters and setters, or a class generator, these and many more ideas I wish were in flex builder…..

  2. DaoFlex does all that – essentially it has few switchable (per Java class) templates you can use to generate DataServices, light DataServices and “old school shoot from the hip” client-server binding. That implies we generate matching Java and ActionScript DTOs, implemented all getters/setters/IManaged or Bindable interfaces on ActionScript side and ChangeObject on the server, manage state on the client without you even needing to send the “update” events, and made sure that we transparently support rpc and dataservices implementations that you might have implemented already. Of course, we generate DAO/DTO code and wrappers/deployment descriptors that can be used by both POJO and DataServices implementation. Ans it is hot deployed with backround building processes.
    I think I covered basic functions – the old article on DaoFlex is on Adobe net http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flex/articles/daoflex.html – that is based on beta version of Flex 2 before it was released. I think Victor has a great write-up on innerworking of DataServices and ligther implementations based on the projects we had – WIll ask him to blog the main points.

    Anatole Tartakovsky

  3. The Logger looks outstanding – can’t wait for that. A question about the ANT2Flex though – what advantages will this give me over simply building the project through FlexBuilder ?



  4. Flex2Ant allows you to produce build.xml for standalone build. As the project moves from development to staging/testing server to production it is common to make “command-line” build that is tools independent – often executed in unix/linux environment, as a part of bigger build/deployment process. Flex2Ant automates creation of such build file and allows you to customize building templates for your deployment environment. Typical production tasks we use it for that are a bit of a pain within IDE:
    1. Building debug and debug-free versions side by side
    2. Creation of self initialized libraries (our variation of modules)
    3. Deployment to multiple environments including secured uploads

    Hope this helps,

  5. Campbell,

    DaoFlex has so many templates accumulated for years, we just forgetting to mention them concentrating on latest and gratest features. In order to create ActionScript counterpart for Java class you just need to enable codegenerator – look for section with ClassFocMetadata:
    ;– output metadata

    Next; you can place the following doclet tag just before the class definition (complete syntax including which props to exclude, output package, managed/bindable, identity template, etc are listed in documentation somewhere :-): )
    * @daoflex:actionscript
    That should produce all your Actionscript DTOs, deployment descriptors for annotated methods and other artifacts common for J2EE world.

    Based on the late stream of questions and requests we probably will change a tune a bit and provide more examples on how you can greatly benefit by DoaFlex seamless DataServices integration and automatic client-side state management.

    Hope this helps,

  6. I am using Flex Builder 2 plug in. I am unable to connect Database (Oracle). Please anyone give me suggestions. Thanks in advance.

  7. Mike.
    Flex2Ant is going to be announced within 2 weeks (360Flex, EclipseCon and Ajax World are the shows that will have demos showing some of the plugins)

  8. What I would like to know is if the TreeGrid component used in the logger is available as well?

  9. FlexBI is going to be presented on AjaxWorld conference in New York by Yakov and Victor next week. We are running private beta with the current / prospective clients at this point. As far as the rest of the plugins, they should be released next week.
    Thank you,

  10. Cameron,
    There are at least 3 implementations of treegrid component that we have in our products now. I would recommend you to get a spec what the control suppose to do as the best implementation is going to differ drastically depending on if you need to support cascade retrieval and support in-place editing. The most generic one is explained in chapter 9 of the book.


  11. I am using Flex Builder 2. I don’t know how to with SQL Server. Please help me. Thanks in Advance

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