Flex Development on Linux with IntelliJ IDEA

It’s kinda hard to believe that I’ve been doing Flex development on Linux for over six years now. In that time I’ve tried a few different tools. Vim will always be my favorite but debugging is painful. Flex Builder for Linux worked but lacked major features and commitment from Adobe for continual improvement. Most recently I’ve been using IntelliJ IDEA for Flex development on Linux. It’s been working great! There are a few things I’ve had to get used to but they are doing a great job of providing superb tooling support for Flex. I’ve also been very impressed with the responsiveness from the IntelliJ team in their forums and bug system.

Here is a quick video I recorded to show the basics of using IntelliJ IDEA for Flex development on Linux:

To get started download either the latest prerelease of IntelliJ IDEA or their current production version. Flex development is only available in their Ultimate Edition but they do provide a free 30 day trial. Let me know what you think.

  • I just saw the Adobe press release about Flash Builder on Linux and thought of you man!

    I’m so pleased IntelliJ offer a decent development environment for Flex on the Linux platform. Could this be the beginning of an outsourcing of Flex tools by Adobe? I doubt it, although I think it would be a good system for everyone involved…

  • Perfect timing to blog about that, “Adobe is stopping further development of Flex Builder/Flash Builder running on Linux operating systems”


    • Marvin, you forgot to mention that IntelliJ IDEA is the only Flex IDE that offers out of the box Maven support for your flexmojos plugin :-)

      This and the great editing support of IntelliJ caused our whole development department to switch to IDEA.

      While Adobe blogs about new features in the next release of Flash Builder like Metadata completion or creating non existing methods, IntelliJ provides already completion for fieldnames in ChangeWatchers and much much more.

  • Kris Hofmans

    Flash builder state isn’t just sad on linux, you should be happy they aren’t brining it to your platform ;)

    Major basic features are buggy, like refactoring>rename, sometimes the code-highlighting just stops working, autocompletion that fails, definitly not up to par to the default java tooling provided by eclipse or to what the competitors like intellij are offering.

    Especially for the money they charge and that it’s not a v0.0.5alpha …
    (btw adobe, the graphical editor, nobody that seriously does flex cares …)

  • How do u install the debug player? i have sooooo many trouble with the debug player…

    Nice tutorial :)

    I will try it with FDT4…

    • @Francis Varga – On linux you have to run a 32 bit flash player plugin. If you are using a 64 bit installation of your favorite linux distro, then you should use nspluginwrapper. It will allow you to run a 32bit plugin within a 64bit browser install.

      After you have nspluginwrapper all that is left to do is to obtain the 32bit flash debug player from Adobe (latest is 10.1) and copy the libflashplayer.so file to your /home/.mozilla/plugins/ folder.

      After you placed the plugin in that folder run nspluginwrapper to have it installed. the command is “sudo nspluginwrapper -i /home/.mozilla/plugins/libflashplayer.so

      Once that is done your browser should then recognize the plugin. You can check the version you have running by going to http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/155/tn_15507.html

      • Erich Nascimento


  • Farid Valipour

    Dear Jamse
    Thanks and appreciate.

    But how it support for integration flex with java ?
    there is a wizard to specify back-end and coding flex and java together?

    Farid Valipour

    • It’s great! But a bit more manual than in FB. But I’m ok with that since I don’t like endpoint URLs getting compiled into SWFs.

  • Farid

    Thanks, nice video !

    Any chance we can see the same with the set up of a Blazeds server and all the remoting stuff to communicate with…

    • That would be a good one. Let me see what I can do.

  • Rob Fox

    have you tried RASE public beta for linux?

  • Stéphane Tanguy

    Hello James,

    I’ve tried Intellij Idea, it’s seem to be a cool IDE. But I have a problem with it.
    If I make a simple Air Application, with only a button, with Intellij Idea, it makes a 912Ko air file size.
    With FB4Linux, FDT 4 or FB4 it makes a 381Ko air file size.

    I really don’t understand why, and I don’t want to use Idea if filesize is 3x bigger ….

    Have you seen this too ?

    • All of these IDEs use the same Flex SDK compiler. So it shouldn’t be different. So it seems like the compiler settings are not right. Perhaps ask about this in their community forums.

  • Stéphane Tanguy

    I’m really sorry, but I’ve found my error.

    I give it to others like me

    In fact, I was in debug mode, and I didn’t know how to make release builds.

    – Right click on any project and select module setting.
    – Select tab “Flex compiler setting”
    – Last field on this tab is “Additional compiler options:” add “-debug=false” without double quotes to it.
    – Do a project Rebuild and you will get a smaller swf.

    Now it’s good, air files size are the same if I develop on Flash Builder, FDT, FB4Linux or now Intellij Idea.

    • You can also add another parameter to optimize further: -optimize=true

  • Suresh

    I am new to flex .I dont know how to use java in flex using IntelliJ IDE. so could you share the vedio or link for using java and flex concepts.

  • What is your workflow like with IDEA when we com to SCM and Integration testing?

    I typically use IDEA with perforce and am planning to get it up and running with maven and then use the generated ants to build in hudson.


    • The Maven IDEA integration is fantastic! For SCM, it works just as well as Eclipse does.

  • Matthew Zimmer

    Hey James. Long time reader. Love your work, love your ideas.  I read this the day it was posted and had been trying to find the time to give it a try ever since but something always came up.  Finally, 1+ years later, just after Thanksgiving of 2011, I found my window of opportunity to try IntelliJ IDEA 11. All I can say is, I LOVE IT!  Thanks for the suggestion and thanks for blogging about it.  You’re actually going to be at my local Java User Group this Thursday, Jan 19th in upstate NY to talk about Heroku. Can’t wait to hear the presentation. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to say hey.

    • Nice!  Looking forward to meeting you this week!

  • Todd Mullen

    Is Flex support only for the Linux version?  I installed IntelliJ (Community Version) on my Win 7 computer thinking I’d try it out, but there’s no options for Flash/Flex.  The module you show is not listed for a new project.  I tried adding some plugins thinking that that was the problem, but there’s only two that come up when I filter them with “Flex.”  One is “Flash UI,” but it keeps telling me that “com.intellij.flex” is not installed and I can’t find it to install.

    Just wondering if I’m wasting my time and I should just uninstall it.