$300 prize offered for best plugin to support ActionScript coding

OK, ask I’m tired of waiting: It’s time to buy everyone a good ActionScript editor, and I’ve decided to foot the bill just to get things done already.

As you may have noticed during the last few months, I’ve spent a great deal of time customizing, expanding and generally bending the will of the jEdit text editor to make it do things my way (which, coincidentally, is a lot like the FlashDevelop and SEPY ways I learned in the Windows world). For the most part, I enjoy coding with jEdit, and it’s almost the perfect cross-platform, multi-language editor. Unfortunately, I have neither the time nor the Java experience to attain the one feature that I miss most from my days with FlashDevelop: Code completion.

It’s a simple feature I thought was silly when I first used it, but man, has it saved me time over the years (preventing typos, providing quick hints of little-used function parameters, etc). Thus, jEdit — along with every other Macintosh and cross-platform AS editor outside of Eclipse — remains a second-class ActionScript editor for me today.

So as of tonight, I’ve decided to remove my developer’s cap and instead take on the role of small-time benefactor: Thus, I will personally award $300 to the developer (or team of developers) who creates the best cross-platform ActionScript coding plug-in for one of two editors by April 15.
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Trap Flash CS3 compiler errors and line numbers… in jEdit!

Love editing your Flash ActionScript files in jEdit, this site but want better debugging tools within the editor itself? Maybe you’d like to jump directly to errors indicated within your code without resorting to the Flash IDE?

Today’s tip just makes me plain happy.

placeLogo(‘jedit’); The result of today’s exercise promises to increase productivity dramatically when editing ActionScript using jEdit: Assuming Flash is running alongside the editor, stuff we’ll not only be able to test our current movie with CMD-ENTER (just as we did two months ago), but we’ll also be able to get a list of compiler errors and warnings to appear within jEdit’s errorList panel, and we’ll be able to click those errors to jump to the offending code — without ever having to edit any code within the Flash IDE itself!

It may take a few minutes to set up, but it definitely shows off the power and expandability of jEdit — while also providing a heckuva nice (and long awaited) feature for us cross-platform Flashers.

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Almost perfect: ActionScript code browsing with jEdit’s Sidekick panel

I was writing a quick answer to a reader concerning how to use jEdit to browse ActionScript code in a tree view, and when I suddenly realized the current solution wasn’t good enough. But after banging around on some source code this evening (and with the help of Ali Rantakari), order I think I’ve managed to make an AS 1, check 2 or 3 code browser that rivals a few I’ve seen on other platforms. Isn’t open source wonderful?

Warning: This article goes into some depth regarding customizing jEdit, Ctags and the Sidekick plugin. If you want to be spared the details, you can always skip to the end and just reap the rewards: A shiny new code browser custom-made for ActionScript!

A little background

JEdit’s optional CTagsSidekick plugin can be used to parse any language supported by the Exuberant Ctags parser. The plugin uses Ctags to parse through the current buffer and present the defined tags it finds in the SideKick tree.

Unfortunately, ActionScript is not one of the 34 languages supported “out of the box” by Ctags, so we have to do a little hacking to get things to work the way we want. Thanks to the work of a few pioneers, however, it’s easy enough to introduce ActionScript parsing to Ctags, and therefore, to jEdit itself.
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A place to store our stuff

Now that we have context-sensitive help files, information pills a sporty new look and the ability to communicate with the Flash IDE, I figure it’s time to start keeping track of all the goodies we’re adding to our new ActionScript editor.

Thus, I’ve added a permanent page to Turdhead.com to provide direct links to the growing list of enhancements we’ve been making to jEdit lately (otherwise, these entries are likely to just disappear into the archives and remain pretty hard to find later). The “Make jEdit yours” logo at left provides the link from anywhere on Turdhead.com.

Thanks again for all the kind comments and emails, and please let us know if you’ve discovered something you think is worth sharing. Thanks!

More ActionScript magic for jEdit:
Context-sensitive reference material!

We’re making progress on our quest to create the perfect Mac OS X ActionScript editor: Today, rx we’re going to integrate the Adobe AS2 and AS3 Language References directly into the open-source jEdit editor, treatment bringing context-sensitive help files up at the stroke of a key!

placeLogo(‘jedit’); To do this, contagion we’re going to need three things: The InfoViewer plugin (which should already be installed with your base jEdit application), and two jEdit macros that we’ll provide here. If you need a refresher on how to install plugins or new macros, check the previous tutorials in this series.

The InfoViewer is basically a small browser in a floating or docked panel within jEdit. If you don’t already see it, you should be able to find it under your Plugins menu. I prefer to dock mine at the right-hand side of the editor, so it stays out of the way but is generally available. You can do this by selecting the small dropdown arrow in the upper left of any floating dock and choosing which side of the interface on which to dock it:

Docking InfoViewer

I’ve created two macros — one to search for information within the ActionScript 2 reference files, and one for the ActionScript 3 files. You can install them both, or just the one that interests you (I’ve got them both installed myself, and I’ve assigned the keyboard shortcuts CMD-F1 to search the AS2 files, and SHIFT-F1 for the AS3 files). To install, you can copy the code below, or simply download and extract the files from this zipped archive and save them in your ~/.jedit/macros directory (or better yet, make a subdirectory called “ActionScript” within the macros folder and keep all your AS macros in one neat section — rather like a TextMate “bundle”).
Continue reading More ActionScript magic for jEdit:
Context-sensitive reference material!