24th August 2010 under Flex

Getting FLEX-ible with GEdit (Ant Style)

A while ago I had a post on this blog which described a crude way of using Gedit as an editor for Flex code. An interesting comment on this post actually got me thinking in another direction I had previously not thought about ... using a build system. For those of you lost on the whole build system thing, a build system is simply a software which helps you to build source code in an "easier" way. This particular comment actually recommended the use of the ant build system. After a little research and some playing around with Gedit, Ant and Flex I kind of figured out this simple way to build flex projects in Gedit using Ant.

Setting up External Tools

If you have read my previous post you would realize that it took advantage of the External Tools plugin which comes with GEdit. What makes this one even interesting is the fact that the new approach is going to take an external tools script (the build script) which ships with the GEdit External Tools plugin and modify a few lines here and there to get it to work. The build script is written for the make build system so we are just going to modify it to recognize the ant build system instead.

To get started you need to:

  1. Open the External Tools plugin and find the build tool.

  2. Locate and copy the script of the build tool. It should look something similar to this

    EHOME=`echo $HOME | sed "s/#/\#/"`
    while test "$DIR" != "/"; do
    for m in GNUmakefile makefile Makefile; do
        if [ -f "${DIR}/${m}" ]; then
            echo "Using ${m} from ${DIR}" | sed "s#$EHOME#~#" > /dev/stderr
            make -C "${DIR}"
    DIR=`dirname "${DIR}"`
    echo "No Makefile found!" > /dev/stderr
  3. Create a new tool and call it Ant

  4. Paste the script for the build tool into the empty space provided for the script of the Ant tool

  5. Locate the line which contains:

    for m in GNUmakefile makefile Makefile; do

    (this should be the 6th line) and modify this line so it looks like

    for m in build.xml; do

    Locate the line which says:

    make -C "${DIR}"

    and replace it so it says

    ant -buildfile "${DIR}/build.xml"
  6. Finally locate the line which says

    echo "No Makefile found!" > /dev/stderr

    and modify it to look like

    echo "No build.xml file found!" > /dev/stderr

7.If you want a shortcut you can click on the shortcut button and select your favorite build shortcut.

I guess that does it for the Ant shell script. The next part would deal with incorporating the ant build system into your flex project. It is worth noting that this method used here could be used to build just about any program in any language which uses the ant build system.

Building your Code

To build your code you need a build.xml file which would describe how ant should build your code. This file is organized in such a way that it represents a series of tasks. A good description of how to write a build.xml file for a flex project could be found here on the Adobe Livedocs website.