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19Nov/100

The Mac / Flash Develop / Parallels decision…sort of

For the last 30 days (according to the Flash Builder 4 trial countdown) I have been trying to get FB4 on the Mac (in conjunction with Flash CS5) to work as well as my Flash Develop / Flash CS3 in Windows did for years. I have now really given Flash Builder a good tire kick, and while it is not bad at all, it simply cannot compare to Flash Develop for my needs.   I'm going to need to have a copy of FB4  around to work on those big / multi-developer  projects that come up every now and then, but for every day use I need to look else where.

For me, FB4 is kind of like the girl you date and take to all the wild punk rock shows and 70's retro parties. She's always dressed to impress, but there is something about her that makes you know she will not be around for the long haul. She's much more complicated then she should be, and you never seems to actually listen to anything you are saying.  She's really got more game than you need and you can't keep someone like that caged up, or expect them to be reliable when you need them the most. Flash Develop, on the other hand, is perfectly content watching a little tv, playing some X-Box, and going out for some good food. When you need her to recognize your custom classes and static consts, she is right there where you need her. She can also debug and re-factor with the best of them. She may not have that sexy "profiler" costume that is all slinky and skin tight for halloween, but she certainly has quality, looks great where it counts and understands your class "packages" better than anyone else...

Ok, enough of that mixed metaphor, but you get the point (I think).

About a month ago, my Parallels 5 installation in Windows XP started to act up. My Flash Develop projects would not be recognized on my Mac disks and it slowed down my entire system to have it running at the same time as Snow Leopard and my new Mac Flash CS5 install.  I had to make the painful decision to simply turn off Windows XP and start to become a full Mac user...after 2 years, the training wheels where about to come off.

So, over the last month I have only used XP one or 2 times, which is certainly a record low for me. Without a day job that demands constant use of MS Office and Outlook as well as shitty home-grown corporate applications that demand IE 6 (yes, you read that right) I was able to make it those 30 days without really missing Windows...but I certainly missed 2 things: My old Fireworks 8 install (a story for another day), and Flash Develop. Both are classics in simplicity and ease of use. Neither is bloated and both do exactly what I want.

So, now not completely frustrated with FB4, but missing my old friend, Flash Develop, I booted into XP in parallels to try it once again. It booted very slow and then asked me to update everything, run virus scans, etc because it had been so long. After the inevitable 45 minute slog through those tasks I set make this baby stable:

Hard Drive and Memory Thrashing

The VM and Mac OS seemed to be fighting over memory and this was causing the disks to thrash about looking for virtual memory to use in place of physical. I had the XP VM set to use 2GB of the 4 total, so I set this to 1GM and pretty soon things started to settle down a bit.

Flash Develop

When I last saw my old friend, Flash Develop, she no longer looked her old self. She had added some new features such in-line code hinting and a  full debugging suite, but those fancy new features seemed to have gone to her head a bit. When I asked her if she would kindly open a project file stored on my Mac User partition, sadly, she refused. This problem caused me to have to keep multiple versions of my project directory so I could use the Snow Leopard Flash CS5 to create assets that published to my correct build folders (thus, making the asset pipeline as streamlined as possible).

Solving this problem was crucial for me to start using Flash Develop again in conjunction with my Flash CS5 install.  After relieving the memory thrashing I tried to create a new project targeting one of the Mac personal folders that is backed up with Time Machine. The project was created, but right as it was complete, Flash Develop gave mea path error. When I looked at the folder, the project was there, but Flash Develop inconsistently opened and recognized the file.

My next step was to download the latest version of Flash Develop. These new versions actually install the Flex SDK and Debug Flash player for you, so I was extra pleased with the install. When I tried to create a new project though, I got the same mixed response. When time is of the essence, mixed results in file and disk access just won't cut it.  My only choice was to pay the $56 upgrade price (including extended download service) for Parallels 6 and try it with Windows 7.

(I skipped telling you about the lack of success with Windows XP and Parallels 6, so no need to ask).

Parallels 6 and Windows 7 Success!

Parallels 6 was able to create a VM from my bootcamp Windows 7 partition in about 3 minutes. After the installation, I had to wait for the updates to the OS, security software, Java, Adobe Acrobat, and everything else before I could move on. It seems I had not booted into Windows 7 in at least 3 months. In any case, when this was complete,  I installed the latest version of Flash Develop and held my breath. I created a project by finding my Mac user folders in My Computer and it worked flawlessly.

Parallels 6 even has handy Mac User folder icons in the Windows 7 desktop that I can use to map short cuts to and place in the "favorites" section of the My Computer left-side panel. This makes it easy to load and save to and from my Time-machine backed up user folders.

What's next?

I have 3 projects on my plate that I am going to build with this new system. My hope it to test of the speed of this asset/code code pipe-line to see if it works the way it should. My hope is that Windows 7 will not get in the way and it will still work that way I need it to.

Fingers crossed...

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