From Flash Builder To FDT

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If the differences between FDT and Flash Builder were boiled down into one word, the word would be Flexibility. Beside having powerful code editing features that are missing with Flash Builder, FDT is flexible with your project management whereas Flash Builder is going to harness you with constraints. While, at first, these concepts will seem foreign to the long term Flash Builder user - as you master them you'll quickly understand the power and flexibility they provide.


Project Structure

Where Did All My Projects Go? or Everything is a Flash Project!

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Perhaps the most significant difference between FDT and Flash Builder has to do with the Project Wizard.

When creating a new project, Flash Builder has several different Project Wizards:

  • Flex Project
  • Flex Library Project
  • Flash Professional Project
  • ActionScript Project

After choosing one, Flash Builder provides you with project creation process depending on the type of project chosen. When finished, Flash Builder will have setup a directory structure and creates files whose initial structure cannot be changed. A good example of this is the existence of the libs folder between a Flex Project and the omission of a libs folder for an ActionScript Project.

Conversely, FDT takes a different approach. Everything, after all, is a Flash Project - the differences lie in what SDK you're going to be using and you're output. With this in mind, FDT instead allows developers to define their own Project Types via the New Flash Project Wizard.

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FDT ships with a few different project templates, but developers can create their own as they please. You're able to preset your:

  • SDK (what is included and what isn't).
  • Your directory structure.
  • You're source folder(s)
  • Library dependencies
  • Files
  • and much more....

If you're new to FDT, haven't yet had the chance to explore project templates and need to decide what type of project to choose - think about the type of SDK you're going to need for your output. If you need to use any Flex components use a template that is Flex based, otherwise, stick with AS3 projects.

Where's My Source Folder? Anywhere Your Want!

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Perhaps one of the most obvious difference between Flash Builder and FDT has to do with how easily it is to have multiple source folders.
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There's really no limit to how many source folders you can have. When compiling and edting, FDT will look to all of your 'source folders' for code. These folders can be easily turned off and on - simply right click on the folder and choose Source Folder>Remove From Class Path / Add to Class Path.

What the SWC?

Similar to how easily it is to add and remove source folders, adding and removing .SWCs is also simple. With Flash Builder, when a developer creates a Flex project, she has a libs folder where she can drop .SWCs into and they will be automatically added to the source path for the project. This is convenient; however, when working with an ActionScript Project you'll need to manually create a libs folder and then navigate to your project settings to add that folder to your project.

With FDT the process of adding .SWCs to your project is much more straight forward. If your .SWC isn't already added to your class path when your project is created, you can simply add it to your project as if you were adding and removing a source folder. Simply right click on your .SWC and choose Source Folder>Add to Classpath / Remove from Classpath.

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