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Adobe Flex Authors: Matthew Lobas, PR.com Newswire, Shelly Palmer, Kevin Benedict

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Do You Speak Web?

A look at a young, new programming language - haXe

It is interesting to notice that conditional compilation statements can also be used with your own tags, such as the following:

function myMethod() {
    #if mydebug
    // debug version, adding traces and doing more checks
    ....
    #else true
    // standard version, optimized
    ...
    #end
}

Then, you only have to compile with haXe command line parameter -D mydebug to use the debug version of this method. This mechanism enables you to compile several versions of your application depending on your needs.

Debugging
We already saw how the trace method can be used on all platforms; each trace code adds information about the file, class, method, and line number where the trace is performed, and you can redefine at runtime the trace method behavior to log information according to your needs.

Also, haXe programs can be compiled with -debug in order to add debugging information. In Flash and JavaScript, this will produce bigger files and has a little performance post, but you will get information about uncaught exceptions, with the complete stack trace. This feature is enabled natively in Flash 9, if you are using the Debug Player, but haXe adds it to Flash before Flash 9, and to JavaScript, no matter what browser is being used. These features save a great amount of time and energy in debugging haXe programs.

Conclusion
haXe is open source software that is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Its license scheme enables you to use it to develop both open source and commercial Web sites without any restrictions. It's a young language, but it's already supported by an active and enthusiastic community of developers who are contributing additional libraries and tools.

The haXe Web site (http://haxe.org) features an automatically generated API reference and a good number of tutorials in order to get started with haXe. The haXe distribution includes a tool called haXelib to share libraries between developers, and a small Web development server to test your Web site locally. Tools such as ScreenWeaver HX (http://haxe.org/swhx) enable you to create a cross-platform haXe desktop application.

haXe technology is used in the production of several professional Web sites with tens-of-thousands daily users. While haXe productivity is maximized when it's used on both the client- and server-side, it's possible, by design, to use it only on one platform, since haXe can interact with other languages as well. For example, it's possible to interoperate between haXe and ActionScript and use Flex components from haXe. A haXe Flash client can also communicate with a Flash Remoting Server by using haXe Remoting. This kind of interoperability enables developers to use haXe without having to change their whole architecture.

Will the haXe approach of simplifying Web development - by having a standardized language - be adopted by a large amount of Web developers? It's up to you to decide.

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