Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Flex 4 Path Builder

April 2013 - added View Source to right click menu.

I got a little carried away making an application that lets you manipulate Flex Path objects. This application lets you easily design a path by double clicking to make each end point in your path. You can select each individual line, move, or curve segment and manipulate the end points () and the curve control points (). Click on the screenshot above to see it in action. I'm sure there will be bugs, so use at your own risk. There is no undo support either.

To use this tool, you can start by adding different kind of path segments - move, lines, and curves - by clicking on one of the 6 buttons along the top in the blue titlebar. This will cause the path segment to be appended to the currently displayed path. Each path segment also shows up in the list on the left side. Click on an individual path segment in this list to highlight it in the path. The red end points () are draggable - move them around to adjust the path. Note that the following path segment will be moved to start wherever the current path segment ends. You can also click and drag the circle control points () to adjust the quadratic and cubic Bezier Curves.
Alternatively you can use the new "Path Designer" option (which is explained in the top panel on the left side). The path designer lets you double click on the white graph area to create each segment of your path. Here are the instructions:
  • To create a line: Double-click on the graph
  • To create a straight line (horizontal, vertical, or at 45°): Shift + double-click on the graph
  • To create a quadradic curve: Ctrl(⌘) + double-click on the graph (you can edit the control point later)
  • To create a cubic bezier curve: Ctrl(⌘) + shift + double-click on the graph
  • If you check the Use relative positions checkbox the path segments will use relative positions instead of absolute (lower case letters like "l", "m", "c", "q", etc)
  • If you check the Snap To Grid checkbox, then the end points are all shifted to fit on a grid defined by the number of pixels you choose. This is a nice way to easily get nice round numbers like 20, 50, 100.

If you have an existing path you can paste the data string (e.g. "M 100 100 L 150 150 H 200") into the textbox at the top and click Update. This will render your path on the screen and allow you to manipulate it.

I've also added support for ActionScript GraphicsPath commands to be pasted in the same textbox in this format:
"1 2;10 10 20 20"
The first set of numbers before the semi-colon are the commands (defined by the constants in GraphicsPathCommand). The second set of numbers after the semi-colon are the coordinates of each path segment. In your program you can use a trace statements like this on your GraphicsPath object to output the correct format:
trace(path.commands.join(" ") + ";" +" "));

And finally, if you have a path created in ActionScript using a Graphics object or a GraphicsPath object like this:
var g:Graphics =;
g.moveTo(10, 10);
g.lineTo(50, 10);
g.moveTo(50, 50);
g.lineTo(10, 50);
You can copy that code and paste it into the same textbox at the top. It will pick out the move, line, and quad curve commands. This will only work if you use all numbers in your code - no variables or constants.

The Translate X/Y option lets you move every single point on the screen by the given x and y offset values. This includes the control points. So think of it as shifting the entire path. Note that the points can't be moved into negative values (even though they are allowed), so unexpected things will happen if you try to do this.

On the right side of the app (not shown in the screenshot) there is an edit panel which lets you type in the exact numeric values that you want for each point in the selected path segment. This way you can easily tweak your path to look just right.

Below the Edit Panel is the Stroke & Fill Properties panel. This lets you define the path stroke and fill properties.

Below that is the MXML and FXG output windows which let you copy the MXML/FXG source code used to render the path, so you can paste it into your own application. If you are using FXG, then in Flash Builder choose "File > New > File". Then enter in the filename you want like "mypath.fxg". In the editor paste in the FXG, it has all the declaration xml that you should need.

Feedback welcome, have fun playing.

I haven't enabled view-source for this project yet, hopefully one day.