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FlexSpy, a New Tool for Design

When I took a trip into HTML/Javascript work last year, I had to make some pages look like a given design. I asked a co-worker at Brightcove, Leonard Sutton, to check over what I was doing. He took one look at my computer and installed Firebug. My CSS work changed completely after this. The Firebug extension has a few purposes, but the most useful function is the dynamic setting of CSS. If you hadn't tried it, it may not seem like a big deal to reload a page on every CSS change... until you've made a few hundred of them. And half of them don't look the way you expect. I ended up making almost all my CSS changes in Firebug.

Now Flex has a similar tool in FlexSpy (found on riapedia.com). Unlike riapedia, I don't think of this as a "component for developers starting to learn Flex" but rather as a component for anybody making a lot of design changes in Flex.

Before FlexSpy, when I got handed a design, I'd make a few changes, recompile, navigate to a component (or change code to navigate to it), see the design (which sometimes didn't look the way I expected), and start the process over. This gets very tedious very quickly. Now I can make a change with FlexSpy and see it immediately in the application.

Hopefully Thermo will make me very happy, allowing me to stay away from more of the design implementation. Until then, I'll be using FlexSpy.

I didn't see a way in FlexSpy to grab all the changed values, which would be very helpful. I'd also love to have shorter lists for the properties and styles, both a list of the most commonly-changed keys and a list of the keys I changed most often. But hey, it's an open source project, so I only have myself to blame if those features aren't there.

Comments (1)

Hi, if like also very much FlexSpy, but in a project I had to go further, and to be able to fully inspect contents of objects, ie not only simple properties, but also complex ones, such as array, and other objects (in FlexSpy, you only get [Object,object])
So I started to develop such a tool, which began more and more sophisticated, and finally we decided to package it in order to be shared with Flex developers community.

This tool, KapInspect, is freeware and is available on the Kap IT lab site here: http://lab.kapit.fr
You could also be interested by our other free components: diagrammer, graph layouts and vizualizer, treemap or radar chart (kiviat)

KapInspect itself is closed source (at least for the moment), but it is free of charges, and may be used in any project.
Its main features are:
- display list browsing/capture (home made)
- recursive object inspection
- flex events logging console
- style inspection and edition (drawn from FlexSpy)

Hope this will help many flexers in understanding the framework and maintaining their applications.