Drag-and-drop designer creates Flex from Visual Studio

SapphireSteel's Amethyst offers a new RIA option to developers using Visual Studio

Last December, I mentioned that SapphireSteel Software is planning to release an IDE for Adobe Flex and AIR that integrates into Microsoft Visual Studio. Now, an interesting beta of this tool, Amethyst, is shipping.

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According to Huw Collingbourne of SapphireSteel, "Apart from Adobe's own Flex Builder, this is the only IDE with a drag-and-drop designer for Flex. As a result, Amethyst now brings a full suite of edit/design/refactor/debug  tools into Visual Studio -- so VS users who want to create RIAs are no longer obliged to use WPF/Silverlight 'by default' since Amethyst now gives them all the tools they need to create Flash Platforms apps too." Here's a screen shot:


While this drag-and-drop interface might look very similar to the C# form designer, the implementation is 100 percent Flex. According to Collingbourne, "it integrates with the Layout toolbar to size and align groups of controls and with the Property panel to apply properties at design time. It even integrates with the Visual Studio Events panel so that users can double-click a named event in order to create an ActionScript event-handler in the code editor. Other features include 'snap to grid', snap to interactive 'alignment bars' and round-tripping between the code editor and the Designer so that changes made in one are reflected in the other. We even have multi-level undo/redo implemented in both the Designer and code editor."

More information, a screencast tutorial, and a download link are at SapphireSteel's site.