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Debugging ActionScript in the Browser

July 31, 2008 by nap · Comments

Alright, so the dirty truth of it is that I used to do a fair bit of Flash / ActionScript work. No, I’m not ashamed. Flash can be a real pain in the ass but I really do enjoy using it for tasks like interactive widgets and media playback. And it’s a fantastic tool for information visualization (I wrote a Carnivore client library for AS 2.0 way back in the day). I’ve been more focused on Ruby work these days, but from time to time I still dabble and do the occasional bit of Flash work for a badass creative agency.

In any case, if you’re developing applications or widgets for browser-based deployment with Flash, you’ve doubtlessly noticed that certain things just don’t work the same way in the ‘Test Movie’ facility as they do in the browser (cough cough MovieClipLoader cough). Fortunately, there’s a way to see your trace() logger messages in a live browser session, too.

First, you need to download and install a debug version of the Flash Player in Firefox. Next, install Alessandro Crugnola’s Flash Tracer plugin. An older version for FF2 is available at the Firefox addons site, so make sure to snag the one from the link in this article if you’re using Firefox 3.

After restarting the browser, you can select ‘Flash Tracer’ from the Tools menu and it’ll pop up a sidebar that will contain any logger ouput in currently loaded SWFs. Make sure to adjust your preferences to specify the log file location and max lines of history to maintain. It’s really an invaluable tool for when Test Movie just ain’t cuttin it. Thanks Alessandro!

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