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FlexSpy enhancements June 3, 2008

Posted by Hob in Adobe, Flex, workday.

Here at Workday the Flex application we’re building is extremely complex (like a fine wine) because our components are built dynamically.  As such, debugging visual and styling issues can often be onerous.  One of my favorite tools for aiding in that task is FlexSpy.  It’s a great tool that lets you view your application’s object hierarchy and inspect the properties on each object in that hierarchy.  Its the closest thing I’ve found in Flex to what Firebug is for Ajax apps.  It even has a “finder” similar to Firebug’s “Inspect” functionality.

There are a couple of problems with FlexSpy, however:

  1. FlexSpy does not have the ability to use SystemManager as its root.  By default it chooses the current Application as its root, thereby rendering you unable to inspect anything else attached to system manager (like pop-ups).
  2. The “finder” mostly works, but doesn’t always let you drill into the child-most component.  For example, if you’re trying to get to a component that’s in a DataGrid cell, the finder will only take you as deep as the grid itself.  From there, you then have to use the tree view to get to the component you’re looking for.

I’ve added a couple enhancements to FlexSpy to try and tackle these problems and posted them in an issue filed on their Google Code page.  The 2 attachments change FlexSpy so it uses SystemManager as its root, and make the finder much more accurate.

I hope that folks will find these changes useful.  If you find any problems with the changes, please feel free to comment here, and I”ll see if I can figure out what’s going on.



1. Julien - September 25, 2008

I agree with you, FlexSpy is a great tool, but has its limitations
This is why we developed KapInspect, another inspection tool, based on the same principles (display list browser, capture mode) and with enhanced capabilities, mainly:
– recursive inspection of any AS3 object or Flex component
– multi tabbed application, multi objects inspection
– Flex events console, with event filters
– Style edition (thanks to FlexSpy)
– plugin architecture, so you may add your own

Also, it has the ability to inspect popups, and you will have the possibility to inspect any object (like SystemManager) (currently with AS3 code only)

It is free and available here: http://lab.kapit.fr
Live demo here: http://lab.kapit.fr/demo/kapinspect/prod/index.html
Other free components are also available on the lab: Diagrammer, Graph vizualiser and layouts, treemap, radar chart (kiviat)

Hope this will help

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