Adobe Flash CS4 & F1 Help Continued

So I previously posted about my hatred for the new help system inside of the CS4 products and begged for someone to find out how to get the old help panel back. While the following isn’t a complete solution to the issue, it is a lot better than having to go online all the damn time.

Jloa, a commenter on the previous post, pointed out that you can delete these files on the PC and you’ll get a local help panel:

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\Help\en_US\Flash\10.0_ExtendingFlash\helpmapBaseUrl.txt

and this one:

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\Help\en_US\AS3LCR\Flash_10.0\helpmapBaseUrl.txt

While that isn’t ENTIRELY true (because it’s not an actual panel inside of the IDE like it used to be, still a browser but a local copy) I couldn’t find these files on a Mac which is what I’m using. I did a little Googling for helpmapBaseUrl.txt (can someone tell me why when I put that into Spotlight it didn’t find anything..?) and found this article.

From reading that, I was able to locate the files on my file system in the following areas:

Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Help/en_US/Flash/10.0_ExtendingFlash/helpmapBaseUrl.txt

and

Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Help/en_US/AS3LCR/Flash_10.0/helpmapBaseUrl.txt

Instead of deleting the files (you never know when you’ll need them again), I just renamed them to helpmapBaseUrl_baq.txt.

I also found these two as well and renamed them, just to keep it all together:

Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Help/en_US/Flash/10.0_UsingFlash/helpmapBaseUrl.txt

and

Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Help/en_US/Flash/10.0_Welcome/helpmapBaseUrl.txt

Now when I launch Flash (you have to re-launch Flash, by the way, after you make these changes) and press F1 I get a browser window popping up but its a) much faster and b) local to my file system. You can see in the browser bar that the path starts with file:/// which means its running from your hard drive. From there, I go ahead and click on ActionScript 3.0 Language and Components Reference and I get a nice little window with all the information I’m looking for, fully searchable. You’re probably saying to yourself, “This is the same thing that I could get by just going here!” And you’re absolutely right. But notice the little subtle difference. Where is the Search field in the online version? There isn’t one! If you search the local copy, you get a nice list of results that include what you were looking for as well as other classes that relate or include that class.

While it’s not the ultimate solution like the CS3 help panel was, it is a lot more helpful than the garbage Adobe was shoving down our throats initially. Someone mentioned that there should be a preference setting for this, viewing the online version or the local one, which I totally agree with, but for now, this will have to do.

If you found this post useful, please consider leaving a comment, subscribing to the feed, or making a small donation.

13 Comments

I just found about this lack of help in CS4, so was very grateful to at least find your partial solution to the problem.

Adobe have made some pretty crap UI decisions before now (the general behaviour of the Flash CS3 UI for starters!) – but removing the internal help system is a whole new level of retardation for them.

The mind boggles.

Hi folks. We hear your pain and are working on solutions to improve the situation. In the meantime:

If you’re connected to the Internet, the Help menu within the product opens the product Help and Support page by default. This page is a portal to all of the Community Help content for the product. If you want to consult or search online product Help only, you can access it by clicking the product Help link in the upper-right corner of the Help and Support page. Once inside the Adobe Help for the product, be sure to select the This Help System Only option before you do your search. Otherwise, Adobe content and Community content will 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.

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.

Jay, 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

Koofka, you did a great job of voicing my opinions.

Apart from the strain of forcing you to use 2 apps, the web interface itself is far inferior to the help panel. I actually keep a copy of CS3 running just to use it’s help panel. I don’t think I’ve heard a single person comment positively on the removal of the help panel.

@George: let me then be the first one to comment positively on the removal of the help panel: in my opinion, the removal of the help panel SURE IS total crap! 🙂 And so is Adobe’s recommendation to use the PDF version of the help. This IS so unacceptable, it just leaves one speechless. Is Ballmer working for Adobe now?!

I completely agree, the removal of the help panel is completely insane. I have been also searching for a way to bring back the integrated panel. I think as a community we really need to unite and show Adobe that these kind of stunts are unacceptable. Keep flooding message boards, the wish-list/bug system (adobe.com/go/wish), and every where we can to stand up to this kind of crap.

So one more time with feeling!
Bring Back the Help PANEL!!!
w00t!

I am of the evolving opinion that the design centric upgrade for Flash in CS4 represents a move away from script developers and that Adobe’s intent is to push us towards using Flex. Lee Brimelow over at GotoAndLearn has a nice tutorial on setting up for Flex / Flash development and he has authored a small Air app for setting up projects to use Flex as the scripting environment (http://theflashblog.com/?p=478). For our current plate of projects, we are giving this a go, but I would love to hear other opinions on taking scripting outside of Flash for OSX. IMHO Flex is miles ahead for actionscript dev with its code completion, hinting for custom classes, and contextual (and most importantly, in application) help.

It remains a bit laughable to me, that Adobe can get it right so nicely in Flex and provide script developers an even further neutered environment in Flash CS4.

– Koof

working environments are a totally different beast, but for what its worth i’ve used Flex Builder (only a bit though) and am happy to report that I prefer FDT. Essentially the same thing, FDT though has more features that I use on a regular basis (mainly templates, but there are others).

I’ve written an Open letter to adobe about it. You can view it here: http://codinandboatin.blogspot.com/2009/01/open-letter-to-adobe.html

This is not right. If Adobe don’t want or don’t care to provide their not-cheap-software with regular help, at least they should publish .chm file with help. For example .chm file for PHP work perfectly, it would be very helpful to have it for flash, especialy for actionscript 3.

Or they should leave it to some Macromedia or some other developers, I don’t know 😉

I renamed helpmapBaseUrl.txt as above and it works fine for
AS3 and components type help, but I can’t access local help for AS2 I need for mobile.

Should be optional to go online, default should be comprehensive offline help.

cheers

Colm

I’m wrong again, yep default Help/F1 goes online, but do Actions/F9 you get all the local panels you need! Script Assist there as well. Not quite as good as FlexBuilder 3 for help, but very good!

cheers

Colm

I am totally pissed of with Adobe since the new “help system”

which is since CS2 i think. ( I am on CS4 now, november 2012 )

Anyway as far as flash is concerned I reinstalled on one computer MACROMEDIA Flash 8. These were the versions I liked: clear simple user interface, only 1 type of actionscript, help integrated in the program, so if you press F1 you get context help like it should be.

Problem with these big software companies is that ther is only one thing that counts: MONEY! So they bring out new versions all the time with no other reason then to make you feel outdated with the old version.

But most of the work I do in Illustrator or Flash could be done in versions 10 years old. I do not need all the new shit, especially if there is NO MANUAL and NO HELP.
grtz Bob

Leave a comment

(required)

(required)