Monday, April 24, 2006

Flash Programming

It's been a few years since I've done anything with Flash. I used to work a lot with Flash, and I like Flash, but I've been too busy doing C programming for my job to devote much time to Flash hacking. However, my interest in Flash has been recently rekindled by a cool project idea I had in which Flash would be a key component.

My interest in Flash is now almost gone.

Please don't get it wrong -- I don't have a pathetically short attention span. I'm still interested in the Flash player, which is a very powerful runtime for rich Web applications; it's the Flash IDE that I've abandoned almost entirely. Googling around, I have discovered an amazing wealth of open source tools for swf creation ( is a great starting point). The most impressive of these tools is MTASC, an open source Actionscript 2.0 compiler written in OCaml by Nicolas Cannasse. I have used MTASC to compile a very basic prototype for my application, and it works like a charm. The best feature of MTASC (beside the fact that it's open source) is its speed: MTASC leaves the Macromedia compiler in the dust, especially when you have to compile a non-trivial project.

MTASC also integrates really well with XCode, my IDE of choice. I discovered that when you call MTASC from a shell script target in XCode, XCode magically inteprets MTASC's error messages and points you at the problematic lines in the code. Combined with the Actionscript language definition files I found here, MTASC makes XCode an excellent Actionscript development tool. (I have tried using Eclipse + Ant but it was painfully slow -- at least on my G4 powerbook.) The only disadvantage is that XCode doesn't have a debugger, but it hasn't been a big issue for me so far.

MTASC has been fun for a while, but I already dumped it for a new tool. Not just a new compiler -- but a whole new language, haXe, created by none other than Nicolas Cannasse. I will write more about haXe soon.

1 comment:

Flash Programming said...


how that come you lost your interest in Flash ?

have you tried Flex or AIR?

they can be much of interest... you know

Anyways, good luck in what you do