Reference Explorer

Page outdated, for the new version of this application visit: Object Explorer

Ok, the exams are gone, and I’m ready to came back to my projects!

Finally, I’ve (almost) completed a reference explorer for flash: this application show the object tree in a swf, it can be useful while debugging and it can help find circular references:
in Flash up to 7 circular references doesn’t allow objects to be deallocated by the garbage collector. A nice explanation of the problem can be found in this Grant Skinner’s blog entry.

Although this issue doesn’t exist for the new Flash 8 garbage collector, it is still present in Flash Lite 2.x.
A reference explorer can also help refactoring or be useful to visually debug your flash projects and to explore object dependencies, in future I could extend it to show information useful for debugging like object variables and class hierarchies.


  • Download it and click on main.html
  • Type the name of the swf you want to load, you can see the movie in a window
  • When you are ready click “Analyze” to show the object diagram
  • Red objects contain a circular reference, the name of the variable holding that reference is showed in a box
  • After each object name you can see the class name


Download source and swf:

Try it online with a test swf: (or your own if you set proper cross domain policies)
Reference Explorer


Reference Explorer at work:
Reference Explorer
Reference Explorer
Reference Explorer


Some links on garbage collection in Flash Lite:
Flash Lite memory management (LiveDocs)
Comparison between Java ME and Flash Lite
Flash Lite memory management