Finding and Using Flex Documentation

Matt Chotin posted similar information to Flexcoders last week, and it reminded me that many people don’t know about the Flex Documentation page. The Flex Documentation page contains links to the latest and greatest Flex docs in PDF and LiveDocs format. It also contains a link to a ZIP file that contains the complete documentation for local use.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at the complete range of formats and locations:

  • The Flex Builder Help system contains all Flex documentation in HTML format. Each page contains a link to the same page running on LiveDocs. We leverage the Eclipse Help engine for table of contents, search, and dynamic help functionality.
  • LiveDocs contains all Flex documentation in HTML, along with comments from community and Flex-team members. We occasionally update pages on LiveDocs and use the LiveDocs Related Topics functionality to provide links to related pages, such as Flex Quick Starts. We leverage google search and provide a JavaScript-based table of contents.
  • Release Notes provide a high-level description of each product, along with a list of known issues and, for an update release like Flex 2.0.1, fixed bugs.
  • The Installation page provides install instructions for Flex Builder, Flex Data Services, Flex SDK, and Flex Charting.

The one you use depends on the way you work. If you use Flex Builder, the Flex Builder Help system is a handy and fast tool that links to LiveDocs for the latest and greatest information. Tip: Have you tried Flex Builder Dynamic Help? Dynamic Help, which is an option on the Help menu) provides links to the current tag and changes the links in near real time as you move through your file.

If you’re not using Flex Builder, try LiveDocs. You can either display the home page and navigate using the table of contents or use a search engine to hone in on the right page. Also, if you’re offline for a significant portion of your development time, we suggest downloading the complete doc set (50Mb ZIP file) and using it locally.

8 Responses to Finding and Using Flex Documentation

  1. Benjamin says:

    You did a great job on the Flex documentation but not on the FDS one. It is too few and scattered in different Flex docs whereas it is a separate product like CF or FMS. When will we have a real, separate and complete doc for FDS?

  2. Randy Nielsen says:

    Hi Benjamin,You raise some good points and we plan on creating a separate FDS Developer’s Guide for the next release. FWIW, we’ll probably create a separate doc for Flex Charting, too.

  3. judah says:

    Thanks for the links! Could you combine all Components information into one doc? For example, combine the Components docs with information about components in the Deploying Flex docs? I found it hard to figure out how to deploy components between the other deploy information.

  4. Randy Nielsen says:

    Hi Judah,Thanks for the comment. We’ll look into this. In the past, we’ve divided our docs/books by audience (hence some of the info was in the Building & Deploying book), but we’re looking into re-architecting to organize things by topic, which would address your issue. Minimally, we will provide a richer set of links to related topics, which, in this case, would include the stuff in Building & Deploying.

  5. Muzak says:

    I’d like to see more info on how to use graphical skins with custom components and how to use those in combination with css and compiling to swc.For instance, what I wanted to do is have a custom component which extends HBox that has a default backgroundImage defined (graphical skin) through css. Those then get compiled to swc.Getting the component to pick up the css styles isn’t really explained in the component section of the docs.

  6. Randy Nielsen says:

    This is an enhancement request that we would like to address in the next release of Flex. There are a few issues to deal with:* Add a new section on graphics in general and how to create/use/manipulate them. This would include an overview chapter, a chapter on general drawing concepts, and at least one chapter on skinning. We could even expand this section to include all image and graphic management, and add embedding, Image, and SWFLoader controls.* Rewrite the skinning doc to add more examples.* Add a chapter to the Creating Components book about using graphics in custom components.

  7. Neil says:

    Hi, great work. I haven’t seen a doc-update feature in Flex. What would be really nice is the ability to update the docs in my local FlexBuilder, to reflect all the updates/amendments which have been made since the release. What would be even better is if I could update the docs to reflect everything on LiveDocs (which presumably includes all updates and user comments). If this was made available periodically – say, every quarter, that would be absolutely fantastic. Like many people I’ve spoken to, I much prefer to use local help. Largely because LiveDocs is so slow to load.

  8. All good ideas. We’re strongly considering this for the next release. We’re also considering allowing the FB Help system to access LiveDocs pages directly (or, at least, making it a display option). And LiveDocs _will_ be faster next time.