Archive for September, 2006

Getting Dictionary Definitions in ActionScript

There’s a little known protocol out there called the "dict" protocol which enables clients to connect to a dictionary server and query it for definitions. Servers can (and usually do) host multiple dictionaries, many of which are specialized. For instance, a single server might host the "freedict" standard dictionary, some translation dictionaries, a thesaurus, and maybe a dictionary specific to computer jargon (FOLDOC: The Free Online Dictionary of Computing).

I wrote an Apollo application called "Lookup" which is a versatile dictionary client. It lets you choose a server, choose a dictionary on a particular server, and interactively query it. I’ll release Lookup as soon as there is a public Apollo release, but in the meantime, I went ahead and checked the dict protocol library into the Adobe Labs source code repository. If you think you might have a need to look up words from ActionScript, check it out. It’s not well documented, but if you start with the Dict class, it’s pretty easy to figure out.

Integrating Perforce with Flex Builder

Personally, I’m a Subversion fan. I started off using CVS for version control many years ago, then moved to Subversion, and have since been perfectly happy. But the Apollo team (along with most other teams at Adobe) uses Perforce, so I’ve been having to adapt. I actually like Perforce in general, but there are two things that really bother me:

  1. I don’t like how you have to check files out (or add them to a changelist) before you can edit them. It’s really annoying to stop what you’re doing, switch to the P4Win client, and add a file to a changelist every time you want to edit it. It really interrupts my workflow.
  2. The P4Win client is kind of slow, and not the most intuitive and usable interface I’ve ever used. And that little jogging P4 icon was certainly an interesting choice.

Anyway, enough complaining. I decided I needed to make working with Perforce easier, so I tried installing the Perforce Eclipse plugin into Flex Builder 2, and was pleased to discover that not only does it work fine, but it really makes working with Perforce much easier and much more efficient. Now, when I want to edit a file, I can add it to a change list right form Flex Builder with a single click.

You can find out how to install the Perforce plugin here. To start using Perforce from Flex Builder, right click on a project, go to "Team", and select "Share project…". In the port field, enter the server and port in the format "server:port" and you’re all set.