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Flex Builder 3 on Mac OSX Lion

I, like many developers, have projects in various state of development -- old stuff just being maintained, in-process stuff on new and older platforms, and new stuff using all new tools.  One of the biggest challenges is how to update your development environment and still have all the stuff you need.

Adobe Flex Builder 3 is one of those tools.  Flash Builder 4.x is different enough that I don't want to cause issues with my FB3 specific projects.  At the same time, I upgraded to a new Macbook Air running OSX 10.7 Lion.

Unfortunately I did not have out-of-the-box love from Apple, as many of the Adobe apps just don't run on OSX Lion, or at least now without a lot of help.  It is my understanding that many people who have an older macbook that was running 10.6 and had Flex Builder 3 installed and working great, after a manual upgrade to 10.7, it seems to still work fine.

In my case, the new Macbook Air came preinstalled with 10.7, and so I'm out of luck.

I came across a discussion on stackoverflow.com about installing FB3 on OSX Lion, and generally the response is "can't be done."  I am not one to enjoy or accept "you can't do that" messages, decided to determine on my own.  Later in this post, one person said they got it successfully installed hacking the installer package like so:

I was able to install FB3 on OS X Lion. The problem is not the FB3, but the InstallAnywhere package. Here's how...
  1. I found another app that has a "JavaApplicationStub" that worked on Lion. I used Cinderella (http://cinderella.de/files/release/Cinderella2.zip).
  2. Find the app that works in the Finder. Right-click (Control-click) and choose "Show Package Contents". Go to the Contents/MacOS directory. Copy "JavaApplicationStub" to your Desktop.
  3. Copy the "FB3_Mac_Installer.app" from the dmg onto your Desktop.
  4. Right-click (Control-click) and choose "Show Package Contents" on "FB3_Mac_Installer". Go to the Contents/MacOS directory.
  5. Copy the "JavaApplicationStub" from the Desktop to the FB3_Mac_Installer.app/Contents/MacOS/ folder. Delete the executable named "FB3_Mac_Installer" and rename "JavaApplicationStub" to "FB3_Mac_Installer"
  6. Run the FB3_Mac_Installer.app on your Desktop.

Well I tried this several times and always ended up where the actual FB3 install process would throw an error about not being able to run native code, and then it just never worked.  So YES, it installed, but NO, it was not usable at all.

To cut to the chase, I succeeded getting a clean Flex Builder 3 installed on OSX Lion.  This post will explain how.  Not for the faint-of-heart, but at the end of the day, it is stable and is what I needed.  I would guess that similar steps could be taken for earlier Flash Builder versions which also had issues with OSX Lion.  I had success using this process to get the Flex Builder ECLIPSE Plug-in working (not the standalone installer)

Step 1: Download Eclipse 3.3.2 for Mac OSX.  Yes its wicked old, and yes its not 64-bit, and yes its not universay binary, etc, etc, etc, download it anyway and stop being picky.  YES you need the old version.  Newer didn't work, I tried them all.

I didn't think an older build of eclipse would work well on OSX Lion, but it does.  No complaining from me.  Install it and smile.

Step 2: Download the ECLIPSE PLUGIN version of FB3 for mac.

You can get that here: https://www.adobe.com/cfusion/tdrc/index.cfm?product=flex_eclipse


Step 3: Replace the JavaApplicationStub as described here: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/6905413/can-i-use-flex-builder-3-with-mac-os-x-10-7-lion  (also outlined above)

Step 4: Now install your new Flex Builder Plugin Installer and pick the appropriate locations of the Eclipse 3.2x install you did.

When you are done, you should have a new shiny eclipse (albeit old) and a new shiny Flex Builder 3.  You can run the updates and get newer updates and shouldn't have any issues.

Do yourself a favor, and hang on to the eclipse and modified flex builder installers as you may need them when you do a clean OS install next year!

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