Using the Adobe Community Help Client in Flash Builder 4

Note: Before using the CHC, please read technote cpsid_83103 to ensure that context-sensitive help works correctly.

Flash Builder 4 and ColdFusion Builder are the first Adobe products to ship with the Adobe Community Help Client (CHC), which is an AIR application that is the platform for the next generation of Adobe help delivery. The CHC provides a portal to Flex documentation and a variety of Adobe and non-Adobe learning content. CHC features include:

  • Always online – If you have a network connection, the CHC accesses content from the web to ensure that you access the most up-to-date material. It can also work in local mode if there is no internet connection.
  • Search-centric – Use Community Help search (which searches aggregated resources, including select 3rd party sites), adobe.com search (including refinements to narrow your scope), or local search. This post focuses on the search features in the CHC.
  • In-context navigation – Provides a dynamically generated set of related links for key pages. Think of this as the replacement for the tree-based table of contents.

Our research indicates that most of you access content via search engines, and the CHC gives you a lot of control over search. For Flash Builder, you have the following search options:

  • Community help – Searches all of adobe.com along with a list of selected Flex blogs and sites.
  • Adobe.com>All Adobe Content – Searches all of adobe.com.
  • Adobe.com>Using Flash Builder 4 – Just the Using Flash Builder 4 book.
  • Adobe.com>Flex 4 – Searches all Flex and Flash Builder documentation.
  • Adobe.com>ActionScript 3.0 Reference – Searches the ActionScript 3.0 Platform Reference (use this option to restrict a search to ActionScript APIs only).
  • Adobe.com>Adobe reference only – Searches all Flex, ActionScript, and AIR documentation.
  • Code search – Uses the Blueprints engine to limit your search to code samples.
  • Local Help – Used when there is no network connection.

One nice feature of the CHC is that you can download a set of local content for use when you are offline. (An upcoming CHC update will let you run offline help even when connected to the Internet.)

I encourage you to try out the CHC and experiment with the UI and various search options. Also, Mallika Yelandur, one of the ColdFusion writers, has posted a series of informative posts that you might want to check them before beginning.

Please let us know how it goes. Because the CHC is an AIR app, we’ll be able to update it fairly easily and are already planning new features and enhancements, so your feedback is important.

-Randy

36 Responses to Using the Adobe Community Help Client in Flash Builder 4

  1. Tim says:

    How do we disable this and go back to the proper reference behaviour of Flex Builder?*****************************************Hi Tim,Although Flash Builder no longer ships with Eclipse-format help, you can suppress the CHC AIR app by opening the CHC, going to Edit > Preferences and selecting the Open Help in browser radiobutton.I know at least one person who prefers this option to the CHC AIR app.Hope this helps,Randy Nielsen

  2. Niall says:

    I have FB4 and decided to update CHC to the latest version. I did this from the Labs and selected Open, as instructed.The content updated, however only an error message is displayed.Access deniedWe’re sorry, you are not allowed access to the service you requested.If you feel you should have access, please contact the appropriate authorities and give them your IP address: 000.000.000.000Thank you for your patience.Any ideas for getting CHC to work again?Thanks,Niall**********************************(Update)I worked with Niall on this and he is now able to display the CHC by opening it from within Flash Builder (Help>Flash Builder Help from the menu bar).-Randy

  3. Dom says:

    I installed the help with Flash Builder (release version) and it’s a step backwards. The serach doesn’t work at all, nothing’s listed in the drop down. I can get to a menu page which lists available content, but once navigation is difficult because there’s no content tree or even a home button, which means once you’ve clicked through a few links and followed the wrong path it’s difficult to get back where you wanted (oh, and the back button doesn’t work half the time either, you just stay on the same page).Search options is inactive. The refine your search drop down is empty. The typing cursor in the feedback box is one character behind text entry point. Download preferences says “No products are currently available”. No bookmarks either…Please can we have the Eclipse help back! It wasn’t perfect but at least it had navigation.************************************Note to readers: I am working offline with Dominic to troubleshoot the issue and will post an update as soon as we isolate the problem.-Randy

  4. Tim says:

    Randy, I appreciate that other developers may have expressed enthusiasm for this new system, but it doesn’t work here, it’s blocking my productivity and I cannot see why you wouldn’t have kept the previous, working system as an option.Specifically:”I’m not sure what you mean by integrated with the IDE” – what I mean is that I used to be able to click a class name in Flex code, hit F1 and bring up an index entry for that class – so far, so good, the new version works this way. But clicking the index entry used to take me to the doc for that class – now it just brings up the front page of the “community help” program, where I must search again for my class, and trawl through a bunch of irrelevant articles to find what I need – just the normal, standard, auto-generated ASDoc API refernece for that class. That’s all I want.So, I followed your original advice to open the CHC in a browser. No, I don’t much prefer it, and now I have no idea how to reset it to open in the CHC thing, where I just may be able to get it to donwload some content so I can work offline. Although I couldn’t see how to do that anywhere – when I pull up the “About Web Help and Community Help” item in the Eclipse help system (the sum total of documentation that now ships with FlashBuilder?) it gives me three sentences with a heading of “Prerelease – 10/30/2009” and a broken JavaScript link.I’ve had to revert to going into the Flex source code and reading the ASDoc comments in the code editor. This is not a great advance.

  5. Tim says:

    THANKS RANDY!!Note to readers: Randy has been really helpful in helping me get this resolved offline. The problem turns out to be a conflict between the expected location of a config file and the Windows 7 64 bit folder setup.If you’re having a similar issue, copy the folder:C:\Program Files(x86)\Common Files\Adobe\HelpCfgintoC:\Program Files\Common Files\AdobeThen restart Community Help. This worked for me to trigger the local help download, and subsequently has enabled context sensitive help.Thanks again Randy!

  6. Fipil says:

    I had the same problems as described by Dom.Comunity web didn’t work and only displayed message “No product installed…”.The Tim’s comment above helped me and I found out the following solution:1. I’m czech and CHC is localized to czech language, it means menu etc. no content. I found out that in the folder C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\HelpCfg is missing the folder for czech resources: cs_CZ.2. I made a copy of the en_US folder and renamed it to cs_CZ.3. The CHC is working :-).4. RANDY please note my comment to support non english Windows international settings correctly.Thanks!Fipil

  7. Jp says:

    Can I set preferences such that only local contents are shown?I live in a world where my ISP charge me (mobile) based on bandwidth usage. I leave my internet connection on but use it only for selective applications like IM, email etc. (I dont want my IDE to use internet when I am on online via mobile)I am not able to configure CHC to always load API docs from local download contents only (press SHIF-F2 context sensitive help). Can you pls tell me how I do always load docs locally?I appreciate your efforts on building CHC. I do see it useful when there is no net connection. But I dont think you can match the popular search engine (Google). I would rather prefer using Google for search, since I am used to its search syntax, interface and that it searches vast MORE RESOURCES than CHC.**************************Hi JP,Two things:* The “defatult to local version” option should be in an upcoming update of the CHC. I will let everyone know when it is available.* The default search in the CHC _is_ a Google search, but it is restricted to adobe.com resources as well as external Flex/ActionScript sites/blogs that my team has reviewed and approved. Would you be interested in being able to perform unfiltered Google searches from within the CHC?Regards,-Randy

  8. Mike Pearson says:

    Just to say that a fresh install of FB4 trial on MacOSX 10.6 gets you straight into all the issues noted by Randy and Niall above. In summary, CHC is broken and unusable as it’s shipping now. I am already missing the old help system.******************************Update: Mike was able to get up and running by installing the latest CHC from Adobe Labs. When you click on Install Now, be sure to click Open, not Save.Regards,-Randy

  9. Joseph says:

    To abandon the Eclipse help system is disappointing – the more disappointing as CHC is poor.Me to – I want back the proper behaviour of an Eclipse plugin.RegardsJoseph********************************************Hi Joseph,Some people (not everyone, I’ll admit) have found that switching to Accessibility Mode provides a fair approximation of Eclipse’s “View in External Browser” functionality. To do this, go to Edit>Preferences and select Open Help in Browser under Accessibility Mode.(Also, people have asked how to revert back to CHC Help. To do this, open the CHC as a standalone app from the Start menu [Windows] or the Applications folder [Mac] and select Open Community Help application)

  10. Nicolas says:

    Hi,Same for me. I don’t understand the new help system.If I click on a object and hit F1, it justs open Adobe Community Help in the welcome pages.And what I need is basically the ASDoc, offline to get faster. If I don’t find what I want, I can search online after …I’m just missing the older help system, where you have the help inside Eclipse, but maybe I’m missing something ?Thanks for any helps*******UPDATE: Nicolas found a bug that pops up when running localized versions of the CHC. Basically, an old helpmap.txt file was shipped in the localized Language Reference folders. We updated the files on the web and this should now be fixed for everyone.-Randy

  11. Serge says:

    Hi,I think that new Adobe Community Help must have offline support, before release it to public access.I’m always online but it really slow for me to wait while help page loaded.I agree with Nicolas, system MUST search offline first and only after I ask it then search online.Thanks.*********************Hi Serge,Thanks for the feedback. On April 30, we posted an update to the CHC AIR app, which includes Offline-Only support.-Randy

  12. Joseph says:

    Download never starts – because I am behind a proxy which needs authentication?The update and delete buttons in the Local Content section are always disabled.Displaying context help is a must. This has never been an issue in version 3,but currently prevents upgrading to version 4. Please use the integratedEclipse help – as any other plug-in does.RegardsJoseph*********************Hi Joseph,Let me check wtih the developers and find you a workaround.-Randy

  13. Richard says:

    For the Love of God PLEASE put the dynamic help back as it was. The Adobe Community Help Client should be an OPTION no the ONLY OPTION. We should not be forced to use it. FDT have the right idea – you can install AS3/flex reference to a local space and access it from within eclipse – perfect!**********************Hi Richard,You might want to try Accessibility Mode, explained in a previous comment. Also, the newly shipping Local-only option may help you out, too.-Randy

  14. Darryl says:

    Unfortunately I have to agree with the vast majority of other comments – the CHC is a massive backward step in my experience. It basically “works”, but I am experiencing long delays when clicking a help item during which Flash Builder is unresponsive. This occurs even when CHC is already running. I have downloaded local content, but it doesn’t seem to help. Sad, because FB4 is rather nice.***********************Hi Darryl,Can you please try the April 30th CHC update? The Home button and local-help only options might help change your mind.-Randy

  15. Konstantin Elstner says:

    Excuse me for this hard words, but the new CHC is f*cking crapy shit.It sounds hard but it’s true.The CHC is a big step back to the stone age.Please notice, that Actionscript developer aren’t script kiddies or designers, which think they can code.When I’m cooding I need an ASDoc help not a community.Please give back the old dynamic help from Eclipse.This new version is NOT helpful. If I want to google, I can do it by myself.Please give the user a choice!By the way I use the Flash Builder help I don’t know, why it’s open the Media Encoder topics?***********************Just so you know, I am working with Konstantin to figure out why Dynamic Help isn’t working.-Randy

  16. Robin says:

    “now I have no idea how to reset it to open in the CHC thing” – Hi, Tim. I encounterd with the same problem as yours. But I solved it by reopening the “Adobe Help” Application from the Start Menu(Windows OS), which is just the CHC. You may try the similar way on your own OS.

  17. Jesse says:

    We have 5 flex developers on our team who are all running into the same issue with the dynamic help:1) Hit F1 (display help section)2) Select a class (ArrayList for example)3) Click on the Related API (mx.collections.ArrayList) in the help section.4) It then take 15-20 seconds for the page to display in Adobe Community Help which is already running.5) If I switch the preferences to ‘Open Help in Browser’ it take the same amount of time for the webpage to open.There’s no CPU load during this waiting time. This is really hitting our productivity.Any ideas?

  18. I was hoping for an improved help system (the one from FB3 had its flaws). But what we what we got is a big step back, as many others have noted before.I can see why Adobe wanted to centralize their help into one app, and it would work for me when it comes to Illu, Psd etc. – but within Flash IDE (which I don’t have to use anymore luckily) and Flash Builder, I totally totally totally want a tightly integrated help system. It just freaks me out every time I have to loop up sth. It’s these little things that make a difference really. Switching apps is distracting, and the integration is loose. And on top of that, I prefer native apps. As an example: Scrolling through a longer page just feels sloppy.I’m not critizing the main functionality of the app (which has improved in some areas, like the downloading of new content) – I dislike the lack of integration and usability.

  19. Omnidon says:

    Gaah! Please allow us to go back to the classic Eclipse-style reference!The new “Community Help” is far too primitive and unintuitive, not to mention that the text is way too tiny for my eyes.I’m now forced to use the LiveDocs, which are much harder to search and load much more slowly than the old eclipse content.As other users have said, this is a huge step backwards for productivity.Because of this, I actually greatly preferred the Flash Builder beta over the release version…

  20. PJay says:

    Any update on this? Is anything being done by Adobe to get the Eclipse help back?*****************************Hi PJay,I’m sorry, but we need to be clear with this, we have no plans to change back to Eclipse help. Our plan is to continue improving the CHC. I’ve been in touch with most of the commenters on this page, and most are OK with the CHC, once they get it working properly (and I’ll take the hits on that; we screwed up at first).Regards,-Randy

  21. Wouter Van den Broeck says:

    I have to agree that the CHC is not exactly an improvement. The thing I’m missing most are simply the tabs. When working on something that involves multiple system classes I used to simply have the docs of each in a separate tab. This allowed me to switch very fast. Having to go through the extremely slow search each time is simply undoable. So, pretty please Adobe, either allow us (temporarily) to use the old system while you’re improving the CHC, or fix CHC yesterday. The documentation usability is pivotal to productivity. I really wish Adobe had taken this a bit more seriously.***********************Hi Wouter,Thanks for the feedback. Adding tabs to the CHC is definitely an enhancement in our backlog and I agree that it would be a useful improvement.-Randy

  22. PJay says:

    You don’t have to change back to the Eclipse help, but why not make the documentation also available for Eclipse help? That would help many many of your users that are currently unnecessary limited in their productivity (and exactly what for?).For the CH you really have to make the font size adjustable. The current small font size is ridiculous. In a browser I just adjust it on the fly, in the CH I can’t even set it in the preferences!Please take note that these are not just petty issues. Me and my team are really limited by the current help system, making it hard to find our way in Flex 4.

  23. warren says:

    I have had problems with:* Installing (had to de-install all adobe products first)* Running (default flashbuilder.ini has lines that eclipse doesnt like, so it doesn’t load any of it, causing the heap to stick at 64m, which means constant crashes)* Now the help. I am behind a proxt, and help can’t seem to figure that out, so it’s useless. How do I fix this one?****FYI, Warren is now up and running and here is the e-mail I sent him:There are a couple of quick fixes you can try:* Download a local copy of the help and use the Preferences panel to set “Display Local Help content only” to Yes (I’m no whiz with Proxy servers, so it could be that your proxy won’t let you download local help, but it’s worth a try)* Go to the Preferences panel, look under Accessibility mode, and select “Open Help in browser”-Randy

  24. Jamison says:

    Yes, have to agree the new help system is one of the worst UI experiences yet from Adobe. Makes the properties window disaster in Photoshop look like a walk in the park. And continues the new tradition of Adobe have 7 different download managers all scheduled to report to the home base whenever they want. You can’t even find the link to download standalone flash player anymore. I was all about defending Flash et. al. with the iPhone kerfuffle, but jeez, this is getting ridiculous. My guess is that the Adobe developers are pretty ashamed by what they are being asked to do. If not, then shame on them.

    Can anyone tell me how to get context sensitive help to work right away when you hit F1? I have manually copied the HelpCfg to the new location (are you kidding me? Was this not tested by anyone? Half of all new systems are 64 bit.) Nothing shows up in Fl* Builder, and it gives me the option to ‘search for X’. So I click the search link. Then all it does is show me my search term and some options. Local Help has zero hits, but I can then click Search Adobe Help, so I click that. It then shows me a page that says ‘Adobe Help (1 hit)’. I click that link and it opens some external AIR app that says No Results, because ‘Using Adobe Flash Builder’ is the default filter (even if I had changed it previously and hadn’t closed the app). I switch to ‘Actionscript 3.0…’ because there is no ALL filter. Then wait a couple of seconds as it tries to find what I want. Finally I can see my help results, 30 seconds after I started. This is on a Quad Core CPU, 12GB RAM, with an Intel X-25M SSD holding the local content.

    Bravo

  25. damien says:

    It’s very useless, and a kind of shame.
    I want the help in my right panel and NOT wainting for opening an air app.
    I want see my help reference immediatly after hitting the F1 key when my cursur select a class name.
    It’s just the correct way to be productiv !

    It’s such a shame to provide a so anti-ergonomic IHM for people claiming to develop tool for “RICH” application !

  26. Fletch says:

    Some complained about the many steps required to get to the API for a class – I also had this problem but found the solution:

    Firstly, you have to select “Related Topics” from one of the drop-down menus in the help tab. Then you get direct links to the API – MUCH BETTER!

    Secondly, If you close the help tab and then highlight a class and press F1, you will get useless info. Only when you then click on the class name AGAIN in your code will the correct links to the API appear. To counter this bug I now leave the help tab continually open at the bottom left in the same group as the outline tab, when I need it I can just switch to it and it has the correct links.

    Randy, it would be great if you guys could fix the behaviour described in my second point so that the correct links appear initially without having to re-click. Have a look at standard Eclipse – this has the correct behaviour.

  27. shawn says:

    This is a perfect example over designing a product!

    What you need to do is dead simple: If I hit F1 with a class selected SHOW ME THE FREAKIN ASDOCS!!

    No extra links, no additional clicks, what we all want is simply the latest docs. Anything beyond that is gravy, but for crying out loud get the basics right first!

    Google has a great implementation on their android sdk website, it divides all results into tabs, and lets you easily jump between sections. This is much easier to use than this sidepanel approach…

  28. Pradeep says:

    Hi,
    Need your help for taking snapshot in Flex and paste in MS-word in IE
    I tried following:
    Took snapshot in Flex through following code:Plz verify syntax
    private function getBase64String(component:UIComponent):String) {
    var snapshot:ImageSnapshot = ImageSnapshot.captureImage(component,
    null, new JPEGEncoder);
    var b64String:String = ImageSnapshot.encodeImageAsBase64(snapshot);
    ExternalInterface.call(‘copyImageContainerToClipboard’, b64String);
    return b64String;
    }

    In javasript:
    function copyImageContainerToClipboard(screenshotBase64)
    {
    var imageElem = getElem(‘imageContainer’);
    imageElem.src = “data:image/png;base64,” +
    screenshotBase64);
    var ctrlRange = document.body.createControlRange();
    ctrlRange.add(imageElem);
    ctrlRange.execCommand(‘Copy’);
    }

    This works fine in wordpad i.e. can copy from Flex and paste in
    wordpad but
    in MS-word need to do “Paste Special”

    Requirement is to get work in MS-word with normal Paste.

    Other solution:
    public function takeSnapshot(comp:DisplayObject):void {
    var ohSnap:ImageSnapshot =
    ImageSnapshot.captureImage(comp);
    var str:String =
    ImageSnapshot.encodeImageAsBase64(ohSnap);
    ExternalInterface.call(“takeSnapshot”, str,
    comp.width + 10,
    comp.height + 10);
    }

    and paste the below code in your html
    function takeSnapshot(imgString, width, height) {
    window.open (“data:image/png;base64,” + imgString, “”,
    “width=” + width + “,height=” + height + “,resizable=1”);
    }
    it will open a window from there u can save the image and copy the
    image.

    This is not a workable solution as,
    1) not works in IE
    2) shows intermediate window from where copy need to perform.

    Hope for a solution,
    Thank you.

  29. Dundil says:

    New CHC is frustrating me:
    – I can’t search from FB4.
    – I try on CHC, but it says that I’ve got to connect to the Internet. I’m connected, I sign in. Message is still there.
    – I try to search. No results. When I click on dropdown arrow there are no options.
    – In edit/preferences, there’s no local content.
    I’m trying to learn some new features but I’ve got no API reference! Two days absolutely unproductive. Help, please 🙁

  30. Andrew says:

    I have to express profound disappointment with the new help system. The whole point of an IDE is the Integrated part. If I have to go to a separate application to get help, firstly it’s not Integrated and secondly it is no longer really Context-sensitive. One of the draws of spending so much money on Adobe’s Eclipse-integrated development system was the fact that help was available and integrated. There is nothing I can do with the CHC that I can’t do with a web browser and Adobe’s online help (or Reader and the offline docs).
    It is also slow and many times unresponsive which does not paint AIR applications in a positive light. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like for Adobe to be successful, but sometimes you guys make very poor decisions like trashing a flawed but mostly working help system in favor of a flawed and not at all working help system. Next time I’m saving my money and using the Open Source offerings.

  31. Flo says:

    Please restore the old help as the new CHC is not where near the same standard. I am fighting to use this tool and it is increasing my development time. Help was a fast access tool that blended into my development when needed. Now it is a task that takes me out of my work flow.

    . There is know transistion between the keyword in my code to the help page.
    . I can’t update to 3.2.0.610 from 2.6.1.14 because aof the darn error message “Adobe Flash Community Help Beta There was an error downloading the update. Error# 16824”
    . No search – MAJOR ISSUE

    PLEASE PUT THE OLD HELP BACK AT LEAST UNTIL YOU CAN GET CHC UP TO A FUNCTIONAL STANDARD

  32. Wesley says:

    I have a bad experience with Adobe Flash AIR Application. it very hard to learn. even i can’t send a mail through my application. its very shame in front of my friend. there no clear help and samples.

  33. Paul says:

    CHC doesn’t work. Results are irrelevant. Please bring back the simple and faster F1 integrated help. It is blocking our productivity! Thanks. Paul.

  34. Please bring the old help system back

  35. Please, just show the abilities of adobe Air with all those funny games around but please let me do my work without having to play arround with this buggy made new help system to figure out how to get propper information (Sometimes I even dont get there because I loosed the game allready just a few levels before! – Should I allways google for answers on Flash/Flex topics? And, of course, for now my only answer is: Yes, I should, even though google isnt context sensitive in my eclipse (btw. for google I want to leave it that way)!). The old plugin help system worked well – why did adobe change it just to provide an alternative wich in real has never left beta state (I just want to be well understood: beta in this is meant to be kindly!).

    PLEASE BRING THE OLD HELP SYSTEM BACK

    P.S.: Adobe may try to develop further more on the new help system – thats o.k. Delivering it will be also o.k., but they should think about letting their users decide wich one to use. Damn!