Why is Flex builder so slow?

The more I use Flex Builder, the more I want to get rid of it.

I have been using Flex Builder from versions 2 to 4. From early on it wasn’t exactly a complete tool – more like something thrown together quickly. Compared to other IDE’s it has always been slow and buggy, and although it has somewhat improved, it is still not doing very well.

As a C++ programmer, I roam between two universes: the Microsoft universe and the Adobe universe – each with its own set of tools and libraries. As one who used  Microsoft Visual Studio between all its incarnations (Visual C++, MsDev, etc.) I got used to certain standards, and unfortunately Flex Builder does not even come close.

Probably the biggest complaint is the build time. If you leave automatic build on (the default) any save or build command will slow the system to a crawl, sometimes for a few minutes at a time – crippling the ability to code efficiently. In an average work day, probably 1-2 hours are lost to waiting for the builder in a debug cycle of modify-build-test.

Part of the problem is because it’s based on the eclipse platform – a huge and inefficient app that is sucking out system resources. No wonder, since eclipse itself is a java application – the java VM simply doesn’t cut it when it comes to heavy lifting, even with top of the line hardware (e.g. Quad core with 4 GB of ram).

Most coders tolerate it because it’s better than notepad, or the Flash CS4 scripting panel.

So why do we have to put up with it?   You can expect that when paying over $500 for an IDE, it should be professional, well-oiled, and with solid performance.

Adobe, please take a cue from Microsoft Visual Studio and provide a decent command line complier that is not java based, one that can utilize multi-core processors – that belongs to the 21st century. Is it too much to ask?

11 thoughts on “Why is Flex builder so slow?

  1. Here here. I think that the bloated Eclipse is definitely to blame here.
    I’m currently working in an enterprise environment where we use IBM “RAD” IDE, which is based on Eclipse. It takes so long to load that I use that time to get coffee.

    I’m thinking of trying FDT (http://www.fdt.powerflasher.com/) at some point, although I’m hoping that Flash Builder 4 will be fast enough (so far so good).

    Fortunately, I’m using a lot of modules which cuts down on compilation times.


  2. Same experience here on a fast Macbook Pro 2.4 Ghz with 4Gb RAM.

    This is kind of ridiculous. An MXML with just a few buttons is a complete pain to edit. Typing a *single* character results in a 0.5 / 1 second freeze. It’s unbelievable. Was this ever tested by Adobe? Why releasing — let alone selling — a tool like this if it can’t even perform the most basic functions every programmer will need?

    I would have preferred that Adobe concentrated on simply improving Flex Builder instead of working on Flex 4. Flex Builder 3 was already dog-slow. I thought it was impossible to make it any slower, but they succeeded.

    Anybody knows anything we can do to improve text editing performance? I’ve disabled a bunch of niceties in the prefs but it seems like it just keeps getting slower and slower.

  3. @Huw,
    I did try Amethyst with Visual Studio 2010 (Amethyst for my Flex4 projects.
    Unfortunately i found it still not stable and missing some basic features. The intelliSense is working only partly, code snippets are hard to use, and there are no class templates for either AS or mxml. For now I am sticking with FB4, and will check back on Amethyst on later builds – hopefully it will mature soon.

  4. Eclipse is not the problem. I can code other languages all day long in Eclipse without ever having the awful hangs that happen in the mxml editor in FB4.

    After finally turning off nearly every “feature” of code assist, design generation, auto build etc. the .as editors work fine but the .mxml editor is still just stupid, stupid, stupid slow. Sometimes I just double-click to select a symbol, and the editor hangs for 5 seconds.

    This is a bug is Adobe’s MXML editor code, it is not a problem in Eclipse or with a Java IDE in general. As said I use Eclipse all the time for Java EE development and even some python; this crappy editor behavior is all Adobe.

  5. Also FWIW I have 1GB memory allocated to FB4, giving more RAM seemed to help with some issues (esp. .as editors) but did not fix the mxml editor craptasticness.

  6. I gave 2GB ram to FB4, and it is still annoying to code in flex. I wish Adobe had smart developers fix this performance issue. FDT rocks

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