For the first time, Visual Studio users have access to a full suite of integrated development tools for the Adobe Flash Platform,” says Huw Collingbourne, Director of Technology at SapphireSteel Software, “Amethyst gives Microsoft developers the ability to design, code and debug Flash and Flex applications without being forced to use an unfamiliar IDE.
“Moreover, Amethyst is a truly ‘visual’ system, not just an ActionScript editor. Developers can drag components from the Visual Studio Toolbox and drop them right into the Amethyst Designer in order to create sophisticated Flash-based user interfaces. In fact, Amethyst looks and works just like the C# and Visual Basic environments so there is really almost no learning curve for an experienced Visual Studio user coming to Amethyst.
“With Amethyst, Visual Studio programmers have a real alternative to Microsoft’s own tools for creating applications for the WPF/Silverlight platform. Amethyst users have immediate access to the Flash Platform for developing both desktop and browser based applications”
In addition to its visual Designer, Amethyst also has powerful editing features includes code folding , extensive ActionScript syntax coloring options and user-configurable code formatting. It provides fast IntelliSense and a superset of the refactoring capabilities provided as standard for C#. It also has a powerful ‘multi-process’ debugger which gives programmers the ability to debug multiple separately compiled programs (Flash SWFs) simultaneously.
The Amethyst Designer supports Adobe’s Flex 3, Flex 4 and AIR frameworks. It integrates fully with the Visual Studio tools such as the Toolbox, the Layout toolbar, the Properties panel and the code editor so that users can easily create and edit Flash-based user interfaces inside Visual Studio.
Amethyst supports all the standard IntelliSense features including code completion, snippets (code templates), navigation bars to find methods and classes in the current code file plus Go To Definition and Find All References to locate references to classes, variables and methods throughout an entire project.
Amethyst supplies a range of automatic refactoring options (to help restructure the user’s code) including: Rename, Auto-generate getter and setter methods (‘encapsulate field’), Extract code into a new method, Move a class to a new package, Promote local variable to parameter, Remove parameters and Reorder parameters. All suggested refactoring changes can be previewed prior to starting a refactoring operation.
Integration with Adobe Tools
Amethyst can import projects created by Flex Builder, Flash Builder or the Flash IDE (CS3, CS4, CS5), so that teams of developers can work on a shared codebase. When a project is shared with the Flash IDE, animators may use Flash’s timeline-based development while programmers have access to the advanced editing and debugging tools of Amethyst.
The unique ‘Amethyst Cylon’ debugger supports simple breakpoints, conditional breakpoints and ‘break on hitcount’. It integrates with the Visual Studio debugging windows including the Watch windows, the Call Stack and the Immediate window. Programmers are able to evaluate expressions interactively in the Immediate window. The Amethyst Cylon debugger provides multi-process debugger including ‘listen and attach’ to enable the debugging of multiple compiled files (SWFs) simultaneously. When the debugger is in ‘listen’ mode it will auto-attach to one or more SWFs when they are loaded so that the programmer can debug by stepping out of one program into a different one in a single debugging session.
Note that you may male installations of Amethyst for VS2008 and VS2010 onto the same system (they coexist fine). It requires a commercial edition of Visual Studio as Microsoft does not permit 3rd party languages in the Express editions.
There are quite a number of tutorials here:
The best one to start with is this one which summarises the essential features:
It is also possible to install Amethyst into the free Visual Studio Shell edition: