Test driving Maven for Flex, AIR and ActionScript projects.

Jul 19, 2010

Being a Ruby lover I’ve always intended on using Sprouts for project management. But when I was last looking for a solution you couldn’t easily specify which revision of a Flex SDK a project should be built with. This was something we needed to do. Access to the continuos integration box was limited which also caused problems, so we went with ant. I’ve been rolling out the same ant scripts and associated libraries into projects ever since. Code should be DRY, so why not your projects?

Minimalism in action

Maven has always been on the radar, but Flexmojos has made it all the more attractive to flash developers so there’s been more and more chatter about it recently. At work it’s been talked about for while, and after a sales pitch from Mischa, I’ve finally started to put it into action. So far it’s really cool, simple, clean, and consistent. The projects I’ve converted just end up with test and src directories. A lot of junk is gone, reduced to a few lines in a pom.xml file. They’re smaller and easier to understand. Just the kind of minimalism I like.

Getting an overview

Starting by understanding how Maven works is a sensible idea, for this try Maven:The Complete Reference. Then, for flex related tasks the Flexmojos site is a good source of information. Keeping an eye on the Flexmojos mailing list also helps.

Installing maven 2 + 3

Maven comes preinstalled on OS X so type mvn --version into the Terminal and you’re likely to see this:

Apache Maven 2.2.1 (r801777; 2009-08-06 20:16:01+0100)
Java version: 1.6.0_20
Java home: /System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.6.0/Home
Default locale: en\_GB, platform encoding: MacRoman OS
name: "mac os x"
version: "10.6.4"
arch: "x86\_64"
Family: "mac"

This means you’re good to go with all versions of Flexmojos prior to 4.x but you’ll need to install Maven 3 if you need to use any of the features in 4, as I’m after AIR compilation, and ASDOC builds against Flex SDK 4 I needed to install the Maven 3 beta. To start with download it, then unzip to /usr/local/apache-maven/apache-maven-3.0-beta-1. You’ll then need to edit your ~/.profile to include the following:

export M2_HOME=/usr/local/apache-maven/apache-maven-3.0-beta-1

The last line isn’t necessary, but I added it to give Maven a little more memory to work with. The install notes also say you need to set JAVA_HOME. I didn’t find it necessary, but if you want to then finding out where JAVA_HOME is on a mac means running /usr/libexec/java_home (should be the same as what Maven’s just told you above) and adding the results to your ~/.profile. For me this was: export JAVA_HOME=/System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.6.0/Home Running tests also meant doing a little bit of work. If they don’t work for you then you may need to tell Flexmojos where to find your install of the standalone flash player. So going back to your ~/.profile you will need add the following: PATH="$PATH:/Applications/Flash Player Debugger.app/Contents/MacOS/" Then your pom file needs the following added to the flexmojos-maven-plugin configuration node. Flash Player Debugger There’s a full example of this here

Concluding with poms

Once installed maven is designed to automatically fetch all the resources it needs. This is done via configuring your pom files to reference the right artifacts so that maven can retrieve them. Where a dependency can’t be found online you have the opportunity to install it locally. So far I’ve used the documentation and found example files and have been reasonably productive. This example pom tests, compiles, validates and generates asdocs for a swc library I’m experimenting with. I’m looking to expand this to include swf + air compilation, and test coverage reports. As Flexmojos 4.x is still under active development it can be tricky to get something to work as expected, you do need a little patience. But that is to be expected with alpha software. Version 3 doesn’t offer the full feature set I’d like so at the moment maven doesn’t feel like the complete solution. But as the source is now on github so maybe I can find some time to help out. Overall I’m totally sold on the concept and am looking forward to 4.x moving into stability.


VELO - Jul 2, 2010

I’m very glad you like flexmojos. It is my goal to keep this beast simple =D

I will look forward you patches on github.


VELO - Jul 2, 2010

Ow, BTW, on flexmojos 4.x you can launch tests using air runner ;)