Finding the Flash Help, In All Its Forms

A lot of people have been complaining about the path for getting from the CS4 applications to the official Adobe Help for the product.

Currently, in most of the CS4 products except for Flash, if you are online when you choose Help > Help or press F1, you are taken to the Help and Support landing page for the product you are currently using. This page lets you do a few useful things, but is different from being taken directly to the first page of the product’s help system itself. Flash is an exception to this rule, and F1 takes you to the main page of Flash Help.

From the Help and Support page of any of the CS4 products, you can go directly to the product help by clicking the links at the upper right of the page. These links take you directly to the Help content itself. On the Help and Support page you can also search for help and instruction in 3 somewhat overlapping areas: the entire Adobe.com web site, the tech support area of Adobe.com (which will include the help system), or Community Help, which includes Adobe-approved 3rd party web sites as well of the entirety of Adobe.com.

When you are in one of the Adobe Help “books”, such as Using Adobe Flash CS4 Professional (http://help.adobe.com/en_US/Flash/10.0_UsingFlash/index.html), you will see a link to a PDF version of that book located in the upper right corner of the page.

One exception to this is the AS3 Language and Components Reference. This reference is available to download locally by clicking the link in the last sentence on the front page of the AS3LCR, which points here: http://help.adobe.com/support/documentation/en/flash/10/ActionScript3LangRef.zip.

Also, here’s some more information about when the products’ Help menus take you to Web Help and local Help, usually a relatively small subset of the online Web Help. If you’re connected to the Internet, the Help menu within the product opens the online Help by default. Once inside the Adobe Help for the product, be sure to select the “This Help System Only” option before you do a search. Otherwise, Adobe content and Community content will also be returned in the search results.

If you’re not connected to the Internet, the Help menu within the product opens local Help, which is a subset of the content available in online product Help. Because local Help is not as complete or up-to-date as online product Help, Adobe recommends that you use the PDF version of product Help if you want to stay off-line.

A downloadable PDF of complete product Help is available from two places:
– The product’s Help and Support page (upper-right corner of the page)
– Local Help and web Help (top of the Help interface)

If you are working in Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Fireworks, or Dreamweaver, and you want to turn off Community Help so that local Help opens by default, do the following:
1. Open the Connections panel (Window > Extensions > Connections).
2. From the Connections panel menu , select Offline Options.
3. Select Keep Me Offline and click OK.

There is a list of the urls of each Flash “book” here as well, so you can bookmark them or download each of their PDF’s:
http://blogs.adobe.com/jayarmstrong/2008/10/flash_cs4_help_is_now_live_on.html.

8 Responses to Finding the Flash Help, In All Its Forms

  1. I’ve been trying to find out what happened to the 3rd party help books/files. Up to CS3, you could add help books and they would show up. Now in CS4, the local help doesn’t have any links to them — any idea how to access them (if they are there)?

  2. Koofka says:

    Seriously, removal of the integrated Flash panel is a stunning choice for Adobe to have made. As an active Flash dev shop, who prefer to construct our projects primarily in Actionscript, having to opt to an external application to peruse the Flash class definitions seems to be an unnecessary and silly roadblock.We, and I think many of the developers using the Adobe products, are running OSX and take advantage of Spaces / Expose to compliment our workflows. This tends to have Flash assigned to its own workspace, separate from the browser. Launching the help outside of flash causes a desktop transition that was previously unnecessary. Sure there are ways to address this, but it just seems silly to have to come up with a way to rework something that wasnt broken to begin with.Coupled with the relative paucity of code hinting / completion of the actionScript panel vs. that available in the Flex environment, the Help panel becomes an even more regular point of reference for developing ActionScript based sites.Further the performance of the online documentation vs. that of the CS3 panel applet appears significant.Your suggestion re: disabling Connections globally, seems to be hitting the problem with a hammer, as it disables the opportunity to utilize web connected services such as the Kuler panel.Apologies for the rancor on this, but being a production studio that often has to develop around opinions voiced during board meetings, you get a feeling for the design by committee process. This one wafts in the stench of breaking a design because one too many people had to justify their place at the table by having something say.-Koof

  3. Jay Armstrong says:

    Koof,I wanted to thank you for your comment and let you know we are working on improving the situation. However, I’m not sure all your concerns will be addressed because the Flash Help panel is no more, so you’ll have to keep going to a browser to view help files. I also wanted to make sure you know that you can download the AS3 reference as a self-contained zip archive. You can expand the archive and then have the entire contents of the reference available without having to wait for remote pages to load. I know this doesn’t address all of your concerns, but at least it allows you to use the help much faster without having to disable all internet access from within Flash. This archive will be updated periodically as the content is tweaked and improved.The AS3LCR zip file can be downloaded from http://help.adobe.com/support/documentation/en/flash/10/ActionScript3LangRef.zip. Please forgive the repeat of this link, as you probably saw it in the original post.Thanks for your feedback. We are listening and working to make the now external-to-the-product help experience better.

  4. CaptainCode says:

    Why is the help panel no more? I really have to agree with Koof a little here. It is a bit insane that it was removed. I have to wonder did anyone ever consult a developer in the whole decision process? And I think that the biggest complaint from many of us in the community isn’t that the help is on the web. it is that it IS NOT INTEGRATED IN FLASH DIRECTLY. I could care less personally (so may though, especially in countries that charge by the byte) about whether the data is coming from my hard drive or the web. So having downloadable PDF’s is USELESS. Introducing a 3rd party APP is what is killing all of our workflows. No-longer can we have the help open, and glance at it as we code. Now it’s switching back and forth. If the web content is that critical why not have flash pull it from the web? Also, the interface on the webstuff is clunky and hard, unlike the great usability that was of the previous CS3 help panel. I would really appreciate your thoughts on all of this, and when we can expect Adobe to rectify this mistake and re-integrate the API.

  5. Dave Stewart says:

    Oh God… the implementation of this new help system is awful!I use help all the time, and all these tabs are now cluttering up my firefox, replacing the tab I was probably on.Not to mention that, but now I can’t go forward or back, and the hierarchy isn’t on the left when a new page opens.I’m sure there will be some people who like this, but from what I can tell, the majority of developers don’t – it’s just making our lives more difficult!This kind of change should have really been introduced as a preference.

  6. Greg says:

    Jay,I wont complain about the new flash help but I just don’t want to wait every time for a page to load when I want to check something. Maybe Adobe could just ask developers before removing the help panel?But the point is – you wrote that you are working on improvements – when we will see some results?The simplest solution is to enable the Flash user to decide, if online or offline help should be used. Then I would just disable online viewing forever. If Adobe cares about developers having the last version available then the offline help could update itself by automatic download of the entire help files.Greg

  7. Jay Armstrong says:

    Greg,We are in fact working on some solutions. We have a new Help section (online) that has detailed information about how to use the new help system, titled Using Community Help.I realize that isn’t the kind of solution you were asking about. We are working on some Help solutions that will address the wide variety of concerns that have been expressed by the community, particularly by developers who use the ASLR frequently. But it’s hard to say when that work will be complete. The changes that have been asked for are relatively fundamental, so they require some significant changes to how we are doing things here. I know it seems strange because it was only one version ago that we had the Help in a panel in Flash. Unfortunately in this case, re-implementing the Help in a panel and some of the other things is harder than taking them out. The other big issue is that if we were to do that, we’d want to do it in a way that preserves all of the new functionality that was introduced in CS4, such as commenting and the ability to search community content.Please know that we do hear you and we are very concerned about taking all of your input seriously. You are part of a loud chorus of users on this subject. As soon as we have some improvements to show, you’ll hear about it on this blog and the Flash Help and Support page.-Jay

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