gProject and the Flash CS4 Project Panel

In May I blogged about Adobe acquiring gProject from us. At the time, I wasn’t allowed to talk about what it was going to be used for. Still, it probably doesn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone that the new Project Panel in Flash CS4 is based on gProject.

We did a lot of work with Adobe to rebuild gProject in Flex, removing some features (that are either too obscure or don’t have wide enough appeal), adding others, and doing an extensive clean up of the UI and code. We’re all very excited to see our baby grow up into such an important part of Flash authoring.

Some of the key features:

  • file system based file browsing (no more need to manually add your project files)

  • multi file compiling, just check the checkmark beside an FLA to add it to the list

  • class generation from templates, with the ability to specify templates per project

  • locations provide quick access to related files from your project

  • add file types to display in the panel, and open those files in their associated application (via right click menu). For example, you could add AI files and open them in Illustrator.

  • manage class and library paths on a per project basis

  • quick project feature makes it effortless to create a temporary project to manage files

We tried to create something that would have a lot of value for developers who do some or all of their coding in Flash, while not getting in the way of designers who just want a good panel for browsing their project files. Hopefully we succeeded.

Obviously there’s still a bunch of things we would love to add (things like a JSFL API, file rename / moving, file system update polling, external code editor support, and maybe version control integration spring to mind), but I believe this is a huge improvement to the previous project panel, and am excited to finally be able to talk about it openly. As with Badger, I think it’s a sign of our maturing ecosystem that you can build new tools for the tools, with the tools. We even used gProject to manage the project when building the new Project Panel.

Grant Skinner

The "g" in gskinner. Also the "skinner".



  1. Nice, I’m liking the CS4 interface quite a bit actually. I especially like that the stage is the Flash Player! Finally my objects will look the same on the stage as they do in they player.

  2. I use FDT for most of my development work, but having Project there is a great way to have those files I need to tweak within the IDE in a location that is a bit more ideal than going to the FInder.

    I have to say I’m very impressed with Flash CS4, Flash has come a long way since I first jumped in with Flash 4.

  3. The new project panel is a much needed improvement over the last one (I used it about once?). Well done!

    External AS editing support would be nice as the one in Flash isn’t the best… I use FlashDevelop.



  4. Great work on the new project panel. A lot of the key issues that broke workflow were resolved and it is a huge improvement to the previous project panel.

    You hit the nail on the head with future features. In particular, integration with Version Control (Version Cue check-in/check-out/synchronize) would be nice from the project panel. Also JSFL is a huge one for me. I developed an Eclipse plug so I could compile in Flash straight from Flex Builder using CMD+ENTER, this is now broken for now.

    Likely to see these in future updates to Flash or are we waiting for CS5? I can live without Version Control but I need my JSFL API back.

    Again, great work on the new panel!

  5. Any chance of a screencast or tutorial on a quick rundown of how to use the project panel effectively?


  6. John, good idea. I’ll try to scratch together some time to do a video in the next little while.

  7. I had some problems with the new version and wish i had the old panel. but it may be only because the old one fit perfect for what i needed.


    first of all i only use project panel for batch publishing. and was wishing for a upgrade not a downgrade in time.

    1. opening. publishing. closing each file seems a little time consuming. why not old way? output name.

    2. checking off file names why no check all button or check selected.

    3. resize with window. 9/10 i cant see check boxes unless i resize to a considerably size not a big issue cause why would i need it to be small when i’m just batch publishing but still.

    4. i was really hoping for a publish settings override. basically overriding all fla files publishing settings and letting you select 1 distinct setting.

    other than that it looks like it just went not my way this time witch sucks but im sure it helped out 99/100 other people so good job.

  8. I’m not liking the new project panel at all. It does not filter file types for one thing; every file is shown. Plus it does not allow me to assign publish profiles to each fla file the way the old one did, which was a big plus. The new panel is nothing more than a Windows Explorer clone. It’s worthless!

  9. keith – I will pretend you were being polite and thoughtful (versus just reactionary), and respond in kind. If you check the panel preferences, you will find settings to filter the file types. By default the panel only shows Flash files (fla, as, jsfl, etc) and some related types (txt, xml, jpg, etc).

    Regarding the publish profiles – I’m really not certain what you are referring to here. In fact, it seems to be in direct contradiction with the (much more thoughtful) feedback from jesse above.

    There’s definitely some stuff that could be improved and polished. Publishing all FLAs without opening them would be great, as well as some of the other features I mentioned in the main post above. Overall though, I think it is a much more useful panel for the average user than the previous one, though I am of course biased.

  10. I agree that Flash CS4 Professional is amazing. All credit to Adobe. It’s packed full of new features and the interface is a vast improvement.

    Unfortunately, it does have its weaknesses and the Project Panel is the chief offender. It’s dreadful. It couldn’t be worse. Where do I begin?…

    The FCS4 Project Panel doesn’t look like the rest of the Flash interface. It just doesn’t look good. And when dialog boxes from the Project Panel pop up, they’re trapped behind the bounds of the panel, usually meaning having to reorganise the interface just to fill in the dialog box. Before I dumped the Project Panel, I had two workspaces defined for every workspace I used. One for working, and one to make the project panel big enough to use.

    The chief, most awful annoyance with the Project Panel… it keeps collapsing the file hierarchy. When you regularly need to access files that are buried several layers down in packages, this auto-collapsing of the hierarchy is just unforgivable. Even the ‘pin’ feature doesn’t always succeed in stopping this from happening.

    I could go on and on and on about the dreadful Project Panel, but I’ll leave it there. If anyone from Adobe reads this, then please pay attention. How long have we waited for a decent project panel? Years. How difficult could it possibly be to give us a functioning project panel? Really Adobe, please strip out this unusable monstrosity and give us something we can work with. And fast.

  11. > Overall though, I think it is a much more useful panel for the

    > average user than the previous one, though I am of course biased.

    Sorry Grant, but while the previous project panel was far less functional, it was useable. Inadequately simple though it was, it didn’t display a whole plethora of annoyances that make using it impossible.

    If I sound annoyed, it’s because I am. Adobe is a great company but it does some extraordinarily stupid things, such as the Flash CS4 Project Panel. Meanwhile, the rest of us have work to do and this makes our work much harder.

  12. Natasha,

    Again, your summation seems a little reactionary, but I appreciate the feedback. It doesn’t quite click for me how minor aesthetic issues (not pretty, dialogs too large, collapsing file list) can make it an “unusable monstrosity”. Annoying, yes – frustrating, certainly – “dreadful” no. However maybe you are experiencing issues I haven’t seen.

    I agree that it would be nice if the skin matched better (time restraints), and it would have been nice if we could have opened real dialogs instead of embedding them in the panel (this was due to a jsfl bug). Also, we are aware that the create file dialog is too wide – are there any other dialogs that are causing you problems? Other than create file, they all seem to be within the dimensions of a reasonably sized project panel (which admittedly is slightly wider than the minimum panel width in CS4).

    I haven’t noticed the issue with the collapsing file hierarchy, except for when you refresh the list. This was something we tried to address, but were not able to do so in time for release. If you know of other examples of this happening, please let me know.

  13. > It doesn’t quite click for me how minor aesthetic issues (not

    > pretty, dialogs too large, collapsing file list)

    The aesthetic anomalies aren’t what make it unusable. Those are just symptomatic of general sloppiness and low standards. As Mac Format magazine pointed out at length in this month’s edition, this isn’t shareware or open source. People are paying top money for this. Get with the agenda. Would you buy a car with seats that don’t match? Seriously and with all due respect, if you want to give me poor interfaces for my money, get another job.

    No surprise Apple is taking over the world. Attention to detail is the difference between Apple and every other company.

    > can make it an

    > “unusable monstrosity”. Annoying, yes – frustrating, certainly > –

    > “dreadful” no.

    Picture this. I have a project with a couple of hundred classes in a deep hierarchy. I have projects and subprojects and libraries in my hierarchy.

    Drilling down into that hierarchy and finding the file I want can take anything from 20 seconds to a minute. Having the hierarchy constantly collapse, totally constitutes an “unusable monstrosity” from my point of view. Really, it just decimates my time, not to mention the significant annoyance factor.

    Dreadful, yes.

    > I haven’t noticed the issue with the collapsing file hierarchy,

    > except for when you refresh the list.

    It happens every time the ‘Test Project’ button is pressed. I stopped using the ‘Test Project’ button pretty quickly, but still suffered from the file tree collapsing.

    > Again, your summation seems a little reactionary, but I

    > appreciate the feedback.

    My reaction is the reaction of someone who is busy and who paid a significant wad of very hard earned cash, only to be slowed down by functionally useless feature. How panels that don’t match, with dialogs that are too big, and half implemented features because of “a jsfl” bug… ever got through Adobe’s quality assurance, is completely beyond me.

    Version 10 of the Flash IDE and still no Project Panel. Great!

  14. What is up with the need to click a checkbox for every file you want to publish! Also it appears you can permanently delete things from you drive from the panel. UGH bad first day with the new project panel!

  15. hello i’ve head that you have made the new project panel in flash cs4 and i was just passing by ( πŸ˜› ) i just wanted to tell you that it sucks…. i just don’t seem to understand why haven’t you done it just like in the CS3 … it worked just fine .. it was fast .. this one is ….. is just like a online flash site or something …. i think the developers wanted something much faster …

    Regards Charlie {var ExpectingAS4:Boolean = ??}

  16. Congrats on selling the gPanel. However I am a little confused by this change of project panel. Perhaps you can answer some queries, as I have just moved to CS4:

    How do you mulitple libraries to the Project panel?

    How does JSFL make a call to Test Project?

    Why do all the files I have changed relating to the project not save anymore?

    Perhaps the difference is too large for most people… I am just seeking functionality lost (but only for now, I hope)

    Sean Cooper

  17. If this could be answered ASAP as I need to make my compile script work as soon as possible.

    How does JSFL make a call to Test Project?

    Perhaps there is an alternative way to make this call?

    Sean Cooper

  18. Hi Grant,

    So this may sound crazy, but get this…

    I made a file in CS3, works perfect…

    I open it up in CS4, publish it, and nothing shows up.

    This is a scrolling text area that loads XML data and also uses CSS to format the text. for some reason it just wont show up.

    Very strange, any thoughts?


  19. It crashes every time I use it. Any news on an update? I use the project panel as a production solution daily. It so unstable now that I going to have to revert all my files to CS3 to use its project panel. Does anyone know of a simple thirdparty panel that would bring back the CS3 project panel stability? I just want to publish groups of Fla’s.

  20. cwiens,

    Can you send me an email (link at the top of the page) with steps to reproduce? We’ve never had a crash in the office here (10 people using it), or with Adobe QE.


  21. I just crashed it. I found this forum googling for just this topic.

    All I did was open Flash CS4, go directly to New Project,

    locate this ‘test’ project in a new folder on Desktop, basically provided the minimum info requested by dialog box, although I *did* ask it to create a Class for me which I asked to be created in the Library with the name ‘russ’. I got this:

    The following JavaScript error(s) occurred:

    At line 431 of file “/Users/rwelti/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Flash CS4/en/Configuration/Project/Project.jsfl”:

    TypeError: item has no properties

  22. P.S. I just did the steps again and realized the above description should be modified: I don’t recall whether it was all done in one dialog box, or whether I did successfully create a project and then press the “Create Class” (the plus sign) and create the ‘russ’ class as a second step.

    Either way, I have a project panel now, and if I try to create a class it fails with the above error every time.

    Thanks for any suggestions, I am using 10.0 on Mac OS X 10.5.5


  23. FINAL comment πŸ˜‰

    I got it to work, by creating a Flash file (.FLA) first and then I could create a class (inserting into Library).

    Makes sense, but perhaps the dialog box should no allow the “create in library” option if the Library (a default .FLA) doesn’t exist.



  24. flash cs4 is driving me nuts. All the little window popups. I look at it funny and it jumps to a tiny window. I can’t get to the bottom of my actionscript window to resize it so I can see the scripts at the bottom. However you do this is not obvious. I like the right hand gray panel now that I’m used to it, but how it handles all the floating panels sucks. Also, I don’t like the menu bar with out the blue part at the top. If I have several CS4 programs open at the same time, I click the wrong thing. The only way around this is minimizing anything I’m not using. I’m glad I didn’t have to buy it.

  25. i’m surprised no one has mentioned in my opinion, the biggest flaw of the new project pane – no support for scrolling. when dealing with lots of files, having to interrupt my workflow to click and drag a scrollbar while the rest of the interface (library, for example) supports it.

    collapsing folders is another downfall, plus no backwards supports for flp. as for styling/continuity with the rest of the app, while it’s not a huge issue, this is a NATIVE panel, not some mxp like Gaia’s panel in CS3. it should meet the UI specs the rest of the app had, especially when we’re paying for it.

    nice, but if you’re going to change something core to the app, make it an improvement, not a new way of doing things for newness sake.

  26. dragging some panels to a second monitor, like the actionscript panel, is a whole mess: habitually the panel resizes suddenly so that the bottom end is below the screen bottom. Thanks to that idiot, who invented that the panels cannot be resized by dragging them from the top, you have no chance to resize that panel to see the bottom. That is absolutely rediculous, a alpha geek prank!

    Or if you lock the actionscript on top of the timeline, by hitting F9, the timeline randomly collapses so that you can’t see the actionscript panel and the timeline panel at same time.

    This and other ‘issues’ makes the GUI almost unusable in my daily workflow, thanks for that Adobe.

  27. I’m going get right to the point. Allow scrolling via the mouse wheel. That’s all I ask.

  28. @Jason

    That behaviour should already be present on the PC. Unfortunately the mac flash player doesn’t support scrollwheel natively.

  29. What i miss very much in CS4 Project panel is something you (or Adobe) thought either too obscure or not having wide enough appeal: Utilities/Update UI Elements.

    I was using it very much, actually it was one of my main uses of gProject. It helps so much not having to manually declare each new MovieClip or component as you add them to a symbol.

    Anyone missing this too? Let’s make our voice known and have it back in CS5 or some earlier update!

  30. Karo – we ( will be releasing an update to the project panel that addresses this and many other concerns in the next couple weeks. It won’t be an official Adobe release, but hopefully its useful to people anyway.

  31. Wow great!

    Releasing – in what way exactly? I.e. how will we able to get/install the new panel version?

    and thanx for your quick answer!

  32. CS$ totally breaks my workflow.

    I dont know how you justify it the way you do, but mission critical time sensitive high workload efforts are impossible to to accomplish on time.

    Someone that apparently decided “low use or obscure” should be shot without a blindfold.

    I need to add a workstation and cant find a way to buy CS3, cannot train quickly a somewhat experienced user in flash to use CS4.

    Selection items in the menu system are hazed out and unselectable for poor reasons…

    Please make a ‘classic’ interface option for cs4, and let it work like the legacy versions.

  33. Jeff & etc. – While I understand the desire to vent publicly, you might get better results filing your general Flash CS4 complaints and requests with Adobe. There’s very little I can do about them, and it’s unlikely Adobe is monitoring this blog post. πŸ™‚

    I’m happy to hear about issues with the project panel, and we might even try to patch some of them. Still, reporting them to Adobe is more likely to get them fixed in future versions of Flash (versus patched on my blog).

  34. Grant, alto I must agree that this new Project panel is far from perfect i hope you refrain from letting some of the more entitled developers get to you.

    Any larger work that we do is still intimately entwined with version control and in that area the old panel was servilely lacking (nothing but source safe support). I hope future versions will focus more on compatibility with subversion, enterprise and others. That being said, I miss being able to use *.fpl files to make whole projects simple to move.

  35. Hi Grant, any news on that update to the project panel yet you spoke of a few weeks ago?



  36. Gary – it’s coming very shortly, just undergoing some internal testing.

  37. “That being said, I miss being able to use *.fpl files to make whole projects simple to move”

    Where is the project being saved to now? How can I copy it to another spot now?

  38. Hi,

    Grant, you have to enable MouseWheel Scroll in the project panel with a Mac.

    Please use swfmacmousewheel2.js (from pixelbreaker)

    Without mousewheel scrolling, the panel is unusable on a mac…


  39. Max – unfortunately “swfmacmousewheel2” is a javascript workaround (as the file name suggests), and it is dependent on a browser to work. Enabling scroll wheels in the auth player is something that only Adobe can do.

  40. I hope Adobe is working on it and will make a quick update beacause, at present, it’s really unproductive…


  41. @Max:

    The panel is great even without the mousewheel.. no offense, but it would seem your just to lazy to move your mouse 500px across the screen πŸ˜‰

    i’ve used the panel for over a year and its great.. maybe give it a try πŸ™‚

    just my two cents.

  42. How/Where do I add and remove a project to a source control system then !!!

  43. I don’t get why so many people ask so much from you. They should applaud you instead for the incredible magic trick you must have had to pull off to sell that bag of lies to Adobe. Has everyone noticed that the test project in cs4 only publishes the main file? but in cs3 it publishes all of the flas in the project WITHOUT opening them? I mean really? that was the most helpful button in the whole cs3 panel, and you had to make it more difficult, even thought that, as a flash developer like you say you are, you know we publish multiple flas many manyyy times during the day. And if I use the button at the top to publish the project, at the end the stage re-sizes when published, so I have to close the window and run the main fla again, Perfect.

    And what happened to flps?

    It’s so disappointing…

  44. Hi,

    I understand that Flash CS4 can no longer configured so that a project integrates with Visual Source Safe 2005.

    Is that correct ? or am I missing something.

    If it is correct… please fix this asap… it is very annoying !

    Thanks for your time and help


  45. Never used the project panel – doubt I ever will. But I find the whole new interface in CS4 to be utter crap. I now have to open multiple panes and scroll the properties panel to modify some text… really ridiculous. CS3 was so much better.

  46. I’ve been a long time admirer of the work you do and your presence in the flash community.

    I must say… Even you failures are spectacular.

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