Simple mxmlc compiling on a Mac

The problem with being a flash developer from a traditional graphic design background is that there are some things that just don’t come naturally. One of these is working in a command-line environment.

I’ve been using the Flash IDE as my development environment on the Mac since Flash 4. Around the time of Flash 5 I started using BBEdit to edit external .as files, around MX I switched to TextMate for AS2 development, and now use TextMate exclusively for AS3 projects. But I’ve always used the IDE as my compiler, and there was always my designer’s preference to use the IDE to draw and layout objects rather than generate everything programatically. In developing my WordPress library I’ve been forced to bite the bullet and move to MXMLC, for the simple reason that the built in RPC libraries and Ak33m’s XML-RPC are only available for the Flex SDK.

I’m basically a total unix-command-line newbie, and there is a real dearth of information for people like me on how to command line compile in the mac environment. There is this tutorial by Senocular for the PC, and there are plenty of tutorials out there about using MXML, integrating shell commands to use ANT etc etc, but all of these assume you know what you are doing already.

I don’t know what I’m doing though. All I want is to be able to integrate the Flex SDK classes without having to purchase and learn Flex and MXML – I’ve discovered  that this is of course not only possible, but easy – not that you’d know it by looking online.

Here’s a way to do it

1. Download the Flex2 SDK from Adobe Labs

The Flex2 SDK is free! It includes the flex libraries and and the mxmlc compiler you will need to use the command line.

2. Put the Flex2 SDK somewhere sensible

I put mine in ~/Documents/Library/Flex/flex2_sdk_hf1/

3. Open a terminal window

Usually ~/Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app

4. Navigate to your project folder, eg:

cd Documents/Projects/my_flash_project/Development/

5. Run fcsh

Fcsh is the Flex Compiler SHell, a wrapper for MXMLC that makes compiling fast and easy. The simplest way to run this command is use the Finder to navigate to where you put the Flex SDK, find fcsh (in bin/fcsh) and drag and drop this file into your terminal window.

You should now see the following:

Adobe Flex Compiler SHell (fcsh)
Version 2.0.1 build 159086
Copyright (c) 2004-2006 Adobe Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

(fcsh)

6. Compile your flash app using mxmlc

The syntax to use is:

mxmlc path/to/MainFileForYourApplication.as -sp path/to/source/folder -o relative/path/to/output/filename.swf

eg:

mxmlc src/com/reubenstanton/Main.as -sp src/ -o ../Deployment/main.swf

The output will be something like:

fcsh: Assigned 1 as the compile target id
Loading configuration file /Users/absent/Documents/Library/Flex/flex2_sdk_hf1/frameworks/flex-config.xml
../Deployment/main.swf (82769 bytes)

You see that last line ../Deployment/main.swf? If you navigate to this folder, you should see your swf sitting there! That’s it.

As you see above, fcsh Assigned 1 as the compile target id. This is just a shortcut to the compile command you just wrote – it means next time you want to compile you can just enter mxmlc 1 instead of typing the whole command again.

Now you can use Flex libraries in your flash projects without learning Flex and MXML.

This took me hours to figure out, so I hope it helps some of you out there.

Here are a few resources to help along the way:

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