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.

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