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Indentation Guides in Flex Builder

Posted in Usability, Flex, Workflow, Eclipse, Flash Builder 4 by Joeflash on the March 17th, 2009

When I am coding a large class file with several nested code blocks such as methods, try/catch statements, if statements, for loops, I have to use Notepad++ to have access to Indentation Guides, because this feature is not built into Flex Builder. Indentation guides are vertical lines in the editor that follow the tab stops in the document so that code blocks can be visually tracked.

To me this is an essential feature: it is a crucial element of code assist, enabling me to keep track of all the open and closed blocks. I wish Flex Builder had this feature, which is found in several other code editors. If you want to see this feature in Flex Builder, please go vote for Feature Request #17634 on Adobe JIRA:
[#FB-17634] Indentation Guides in Flex Builder

First I looked to see if there was an Eclipse extension or other that I could install, similar to the Virtual Line Wrap plugin, but it doesn’t seem to exist. Since there is a bug/feature request on the Eclipse bugbase itself, it may be a little more involved than simply writing a plugin, which is why there currently aren’t any.

Indent Guides in Notepad++

If I really need to edit the file in Flex Builder, I narrow the Edit view and use the horizontal scrollbar to line up the code block bracket with the left side of the editing window, but this is a nasty, nasty, time-consuming hack, and most of the time I just re-open the file in Notepad++ for a few edits, which isn’t ideal, but it’s better than getting motion sickness from the scrollbar.

Again, if you care about having this in Flex Builder at all, go vote for feature request #17634.

4 Responses to 'Indentation Guides in Flex Builder'

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  1. on March 18th, 2009 at 2:06 am

    I like it! Some might feel that there’s a lot going on within the code editor once you add guides, but as long as it was turned off with a simple hot key, I think it’s a great idea.

  2. on March 18th, 2009 at 5:29 am

    Nice idea, however i use the flexformatter plugin for flexbuilder. It does a really nice job and then you do not need to worry about indentation…


  3. Joeflash said,

    on March 18th, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    The Flex Formatter plugin sounds cool, thanks for mentioning it! I’ll give it a whirl.

    However, auto-formatting is not quite the same thing as formatting guides. Indentation Guides would allow you to keep track of indents you’ve already made, so it’s a visual tracking tool, not a “clean up” tool. For me, it’s essential.

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