Eclipse w/ Flex Builder Plugin, Flash Builder 4, Coda, etc

Posted on 24 June 2009

OS X Development DesktopFor me, an average day of development routinely includes as many as a half-a-dozen languages and a good number of development environments.

Several times within the last week or so I’ve been asked what I use for the majority of my development and if I have any secret tips on applications that aid in my efforts and productivity.

The simple answer… no.

I have a tendency to choose standards and common practice over popular, hyped applications and utilities.

This is just a few notes on some of the most used applications on my primary development machine. Oh — and it’s a Mac.

Flex & AIR

Flex 3 development is of course as you can imagine done in Flex Builder 3. For the past month or so I’ve been using Eclipse 3.4 along with Adobe’s Flex Builder plugin. I’ve bounced back and forth between the Flex Builder plugin and the stand-along Flex Builder app, but found that the latest release of Eclipse along with the plugin work and play nicely together and are relatively stable.

One note I might mention — the few times that I have installed Eclipse 3.4 along with the Flex Builder plugin I have had to customize my perspective to include the launch and debug buttons for Flex. This wasn’t an issue in previous versions and isn’t really a big issue at all, but for new users, this could be confusing.

Flex 4 development is done in the stand-alone Flash Builder 4 beta. I chose this route only as a simple and quick method of having both tools available without worrying about interference between the two. Not to imply that there is, I just had better things to do at the time than risk an issue. No other reason.


Eclipse 3.4 is the Java IDE of choice. This shouldn’t be any surprise if you are a Java developer.

Nothing more to see here.

Cocoa / Objective-C 2.0

Well, unless you are a complete masochist, then you of course already know that this is done in Xcode. If you are not yet an Xcode user, then you can’t imagine what you are missing. It’s an excellent multi-language IDE and makes quick work of Cocoa applications. Although it does support a wide range of compiled and interpreted languages, it’s pretty much only used for Cocoa on my machines and most recently of course, iPhone app development.

PHP / PERL / Ruby  & Python

All of my scripting development is done using Coda by Panic. It’s a great light-weight, multi-language development environment that uses the latest and greatest features of OS X to make endless hours of scripting more enjoyable.

It is missing a feature or two that I wouldn’t mind having (such as local function / method code hinting), but ultimately it’s not a deal breaker. I’ve easily logged a few million lines of code through Coda.


I’m more of a purist here and have a tendency to do all of my MySQL jockeying through the command line. However, recently I’ve began using Sequel Pro for OS X and although it is lacking in a few areas, it does make it nice and convenient to quickly create and modify table column types as well as backup databases and tables to the local disk.


I do get asked quite a bit about backup policies, and of course it is mostly by clients. For backup on all of my development machines I use externally connected 1 terabyte drives and use Time Machine. Time Machine with OS X takes hourly snapshots of changes and automates the management of the data so I can focus on more important things. — I like that.


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