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Interview with Chris Gross & SourceMate Giveaway!

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SourceMate is a new plugin for FlashBuilder which promises to add a lot of "missing" features some of us have taken for granted in other IDEs.

Read on to hear SourceMate Architect Chris Gross answer some questions about the product, plus find out how you can win a free license!


QSourceMate is a new Plugin for Flash Builder which adds some much needed refactoring, code generation, and automation to the IDE. How did you guys come up with the product, who’s on the team and what is the goal?

There are 3 of us on the SourceMate team including myself as the primary architect. We developed SourceMate pretty quickly after founding ElementRiver. Being experienced Java developers, we’ve become used to many of the features found in the popular Java IDEs. Things like code templates and snippets, but most of all the huge time-saving refactoring features. We wanted those features for ourselves but we also understood that other Flex and ActionScript developers wanted them too. With our significant Eclipse expertise to back us up, we jumped right in and started developing SourceMate.

QOut of all of the amazing features, what would you say is the one you are most proud of?

Good question. The code templates seem to be very popular. I use the code generation features (like Generate Getters/Setters) daily. The features around metadata tags, which are becoming more and more important in today’s Flex frameworks, are significant.


But I’d have to say the refactoring features like Extract Interface are really my favorites. Using Extract Interface just once can save you hours of time. Do you have a few methods in a class that you’d like to pull out into a separate interface? Click a few buttons and SourceMate will do it for you. It will create the interface class, add the implements clause to the original class, and most importantly go through your entire workspace to see if it can change variables referring to the class’s type to the new interface type.


QHave you been working with Adobe on this project or is it something you have undertaken on your own?

We’ve spoken with Adobe and they’re supportive but SourceMate is solely an ElementRiver creation.


QLet's talk about the ASDoc and Ant Generation Wizard. Historically these two features of the Flex SDK have been hard to set up for beginning to intermediate users. How does SourceMate automate this process and how customizable is the workflow?


Building ASDoc is a pain without SourceMate. You have to run the asdoc command from the console and you have to dig up all the appropriate command line arguments from the documentation. Then you have setup all the arguments correctly including the library paths and compiler arguments. It’s a real pain. With SourceMate, you just click through the wizard. SourceMate inspects the project, determines the necessary arguments, gathers any options you specified in the wizard, and executes the ASDoc builder right inside Flash Builder. And when it’s done, SourceMate gives you a hyperlink to the generated documentation.

Using Ant to build Flex applications is very similar. As developers, we create these build scripts so rarely that we’re always digging through documentation to remember what we need to do. Just like with ASDoc, SourceMate will inspect your project and pull out the necessary configuration parameters and create the build.xml for you. SourceMate will even handle complex projects that include modules. The generated build.xml will include the necessary tasks to build the main application and all of its sub-modules using the link reports and any other necessary options. Once the build.xml is created for you, you can customize it however you wish. It’s so much easier to tweak a few parameters when the example is right in front of you.

QWhat other features do you have planned for future versions of SourceMate?

We’ll continue to focus on core productivity features like refactoring and code generation. You can expect to see the list of refactorings to grow pretty rapidly. We also have a few great ideas up our sleeve that we think will make SourceMate even more exciting. And as always, if anyone out there has any ideas or suggestions send 'em our way at sourcemate [at] elementriver [dot] com.

QAt the end of the day, money talks. It's hard to get people to spend money on additional software. How do you plan to price SourceMate and when do you think developers will see a return on that investment?

SourceMate will be priced at $79. If you buy SourceMate on a Monday, I’m confident it will have paid for itself by Friday. In some cases, using just one of the refactoring features once can save you 2 or 3 hours of time. With the low price and the abundance of features, we hope every Flex and ActionScript developer will put SourceMate in their toolbelt.

SourceMate License Giveaway!

Congratulations to Nicolas from hellonicolas.com! Bad luck to those who didn't win; keep an eye on Activetuts+ for future giveaways.

Thanks to Jesse and SourceMate for a great interview and stumping up the free license!

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