3 May 2011
In this article you'll find several simple and effective tips, timesaving shortcuts, and other helpful information to increase your productivity with Flash Builder.
Note: Throughout the article, the usage of Ctrl key and Alt key is specific to Windows. For Mac, the equivalent of the Ctrl key (Win) is the Command key, and the equivalent of the Alt key (Win) is the Option key.
Note: * represents a new or enhanced feature in Flash Builder 4.5
Content Assist―Content Assist provides you with a list of suggested completions for partially entered code strings.
Press Ctrl+Space to invoke Content Assist.
In MXML documents:
Enter '[' within <fx:Metadata> or <fx:Script> tags:
In ActionScript documents:
Enter '[' before a class name, variable, or getter or setter function.
You can select a state using the Show State pop-up menu.
When you define multiple states in your application, the MXML code editor automatically adds a Show State pop-up menu, like this:
You can also type a substring of the command that you want, or the first letter of the command, and it will show all matches. For example, to debug an application, press Ctrl+3, and type deb. The commands recognize camel-case typing also.
The Quick Access feature stores a history of your previous commands with the last-used commands appearing first. For example, if you're debugging an application, the Debug command appears first in your history. This helps you quickly execute frequently used commands.
For more information on each of these Quick Assist options, see Quick Assist.
Flash Builder helps you identify places in your code where you have an undefined method, variable, or class, and lets you generate stub code using Quick Assist. The undefined identifiers in your code are indicated by .
The generated stub code can be used as a placeholder for the code that you want to implement later without rendering your code incompatible.
For more information, see Generate from usage.
The Quick Outline view is displayed in a pop-up window within the editor itself, and not as a separate view. You can use it to quickly navigate and inspect your code.
Start typing the first few letters of what you're looking in the Quick Outline view and select it to take you to the right line in your code.
*Code templates - Code templates let you speed-up your coding efforts by letting you auto-insert frequently used coding patterns. Flash Builder provides over 100 pre-defined templates for ActionScript, CSS, and MXML code.
To insert a code template, just type the name of the template in the code editor, and press Ctrl+Space. For example, to insert a 'for loop' in your code, just type
fori and press Ctrl+Space.
To display all the available code templates in the context of your code, press Ctrl+Space twice.
To create and edit code templates, go to the Preferences dialog box, and select Flash Builder > Editors > Code Templates.
For more information, see Code templates.
Place your cursor on an import statement, press Ctrl+1, and select Organize Imports.
To sort the import statements alphabetically by package name, pressCtrl+Shift+O.
Press Ctrl+Alt+H to open the Call Hierarchy view. You can use this view to find all the instances in your project where a specific method, property, or variable is used.
Double-click an entry to open the file that contains the entry, and inspect the code. You can also click a node to see the call stack trace. You can view the calls from and calls to a method in both Flex and ActionScript projects.
To fix the indentation for a block of code without using tabs, select the block of code and press Ctrl+I.
Use the Ctrl+F shortcut to find and optionally replace text strings in the file that is currently open in your editor.
To search all resources across projects in the workspace, use the advanced search features of Flash Builder. See Finding code references in the Advanced Tips & Tricks section below.
You can quickly comment-out lines of code in your ActionScript and MXML code using the Ctrl+Shift+C keyboard shortcut. The keyboard shortcut works as a toggle letting you add or remove comments.
You can add the following types of comments:
To add CDATA blocks (<![CDATA[ ]]>) in your MXML code, press Ctrl+Shift+D.
Flash Builder automatically indents the line of code according to your indentation preferences (In the Preferences dialog, select Flash Builder > Editors, and specify the indent type and size).
If you, however, want to fix any indentation, you can do it without manually indenting individual lines of code using the Tab key.
Just select the block of code for which you want to fix the indentation, and press Ctrl+I.
*Block selection and edit mode
If you have multiple instances of a variable name or a package name that you want to change, click in the Flash Builder toolbar and select the multiple lines of code. You can edit once and all the lines of code change.
*Format MXML documents
To format code in a swift keystroke, select one or more lines of MXML code and press Ctrl+Shift+F.
You can change the default formatting using the Preferences dialog box. In the Preferences dialog box, go to Flash Builder > MXML Code > Formatting to change the order and grouping of the attributes.
Move lines of code
You can quickly move lines of code up and down by selecting the lines of code and pressing Alt and the Up or Down Arrow keys.
Delete lines of code
Select the lines of code that you want to delete and press Ctrl+D.
To delete only the last character in a line of code, press Ctrl+Backspace.
You can configure the conditional breakpoint to stop execution for any of the following conditions:
To set a conditional breakpoint, first set a breakpoint on a line by pressing Shift+Ctrl+B. Then right-click and select Breakpoint Properties. You can specify the condition as multiple expressions separated with a comma.
For more information, see Setting conditional breakpoints.
Watchpoints—You can use watchpoints to monitor a specific instance of a variable during debugging. When debugging an application, you can set watchpoints on specific instances of variables to stop execution when the watched variable changes value.
To set a watchpoint in a debugging session, first set a breakpoint on a line by pressing Shift+Ctrl+B. When debugging stops at the breakpoint, go to the Variables view, open the context menu for a variable, and select Toggle Watchpoint.
For more information, see Using watchpoints.
Expressions—You can drag-and-drop lines of code from the editor into the Expressions view to quickly monitor code expressions.
Run to Line—Use the Run to Line command to break out of a loop during a debugging session.
While debugging, you sometimes find that your code is executing a loop that repeats many times. To break out of this loop and continue to run to a line further in the code, press Ctrl+R to use the Run to Line command.
*Working in Source mode and Design mode simultaneously
You can choose to open both the Source mode and Design mode of a file at the same time.
*Turning Design mode on/off
If you want to work only in the Source mode without using the Design mode, go to the Window menu, and deselect Enable Design Mode. You can select Enable Design Mode anytime to display the Design mode again.
When using multiple states in your application, you can cycle through the different states and view code that is applicable to only that state, graying out all other code.
Press Ctrl+\ to quickly cycle to the next state or press Shift+Ctrl+\ to move to the previous state.
*Setting Flash Builder as the default editor for ActionScript and MXML files
Open the Preferences dialog and select Flash Builder > File Associations.
Select the ActionScript Files (*.as) and MXML Files (*.mxml) check boxes to set the file associations.
Go to the Preferences dialog box, and select Flash Builder > Editors. Select Use Additional Custom Triggers, and type the keys that you want to use as a trigger for accessing code hints.
If you type even one key of the trigger, code hints are invoked. For example, if you specify the trigger keys as ab. Typing either a or b invokes Content Assist.
You can find references to code identifiers such as getters and setters, interfaces and classes, variables, and functions.
To do so, click the code identifier to which you want to find references, and select Search > References.
You can find references within a file, project, or workspace.
Press Ctrl+Shift+G to find all references within a workspace.
Refactoring lets you rename a code identifier and automatically update all references to the identifier. Flash Builder lets you do it in three simple steps:
For more information, see Finding references and refactoring code.
Flash Builder automatically generates predefined code when you generate event handlers, getters and setters, or when overriding and implementing methods.
You can customize the predefined code that Flash Builder generates by editing the code template, as follows:
For more information, see Customizing code templates.
For a class, you can select the methods that you want to override and the methods that you want to implement by selecting Source > Override/Implement Methods.
For more information, see Override or implement methods.
You can specify the file types that you do not want Flash Builder to copy to the output folder during project compilation.
Go to the Preferences dialog box, and select Flash Builder > File Exclusions. You can add new filename extensions and filenames, or remove any existing ones from the list.
You can change the stand-alone Flash Player while launching or debugging an application.
Go to the Preferences dialog box, select Flash Builder > Debug, and change the location of the Flash Player executable.
To display the ASDoc tooltip, press F2:
To display the ASDoc view, press Ctrl+3, and type asdoc, and select Views:
Flash Builder reference documentation
Press F1 to invoke Flash Builder reference documentation specific to a dialog box or wizard.
The complete list of keyboard shortcuts available in Flash Builder can be referred to anytime by simply pressing Ctrl+Shift+L.
There are also a number of other useful resources, like the following, to help increase your coding productivity in Flash Builder:
Thank you very much to Holly Schinsky for her inputs to this article.