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HelpPanel Plugin Releases [1.4 Beta] 
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Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2005 5:49 pm
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HelpPanel Plugin

Download Beta Release - May be unstable!
Download Current Release

The following is the official release thread for the HelpPanel plugin (formerly known as FlashHelp). This plugin adds the ability to search the Flash help files and the LiveDocs from within FlashDevelop. In general, no special setup is needed, and the plugin will automatically detect if you have Flash installed. Additionally, you can add custom search locations, which can be folders on your hard drive or online websites. Context help support is simple, but pressing F1 when the cursor is on an item in the editor, will automatically open a search for information on the item.

Note: This plugin is no longer actively developed. Josh has no plans to port it to new versions of FlashDevelop.

History and Changelog:

HelpPanel 1.4 Beta
Powered by Apache Lucene for faster searching!
Currently a beta release. Not completely polished. May be bugs.

HelpPanel 1.3
Redesigned "Manage Help Sources" dialog to look more like the "Global Classpaths" dialog.
Combined the "Actionscript Language Reference" and the "Component Reference" for Flash 8 into one source.
Removed the ability to type a name into the source selection combobox.
Added "HelpPanel.LastSource" to restore previous source on program launch.

HelpPanel 1.2
Added search start on Enter keypress.
Further optimized search speed and result quality.
Added language reference sections of Flash Help files as automatic locations.
Set the Actionscript Language Reference as default search location.

HelpPanel 1.1
Name change.
Included ability to add custom locations.
Saves custom locations in FlashDevelop settings.
Made slight cosmetic changes to the interface.
Moved menu item to Help Menu and renamed to "Search..."

FlashHelp 1.0
Initial release.
Auto-detects Flash MX 2004 and Flash 8 help files.
Searches LiveDocs through Google.
Hooks context help commands through the ASCompletion plugin.

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Last edited by zeus on Tue Aug 26, 2008 7:04 pm, edited 7 times in total.



Mon Dec 26, 2005 8:18 am
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I quickly tested it and it seems to work fine -- very nice!

I'll give it a chance when I'll be back to work, next year ;)


Mon Dec 26, 2005 10:07 am
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Was looking for something like that! Dlng now!

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Mon Dec 26, 2005 2:05 pm
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Strange... after putting the flashHelp.dll file in the /plugins folder and restarting the app, my workspace settings were all lost, reseted to the default workspace... does that have something to do with the plug-in/plug-in loading routines or something related?

Great work btw!

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Mon Dec 26, 2005 2:09 pm
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This is actually a limitation of the layout system: it is reset to default when a panel is added or removed. We will try to solve it sometime.


Mon Dec 26, 2005 2:37 pm
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I was about to open Flash to get to the help files last night, when I remembered my plugin. It's nice to have everything inside FD. Just thought I'd share. :D

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Tue Dec 27, 2005 9:41 pm
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Very nice plugin. Thanks.


Thu Dec 29, 2005 4:02 pm
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You could add "asdocs" to your plugin. The online version is often down but you can download this javadoc-like ActionScript documention from MM. I guess it would be easy to get to the right page directly.
i.e. MovieClip.attachMovie() is something like <asdocs>/MovieClip.html#attachMovie()


Thu Dec 29, 2005 8:30 pm
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I actually didn't know you could download the ASLR in html format. As I mentioned in another thread, I plan to give the user the ability to add more search locations. If you have asdocs on your hard drive, you'll be able to add the folder as a search location, and it should work just like the regular help search.

I think I might include some kind of readme with the plugin that includes a link to the asdocs zip file so people that don't own the main Flash IDE can get their hands on some files to search locally.

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Thu Dec 29, 2005 9:44 pm
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Whoever created the HTML for the asdocs made some very strange choices. I'm using them to test the new feature to add additional help sources for searching. Here's the most interesting design choice: Initially, the <title> tag is left blank in the HTML, but after the page loads, it gets set by JavaScript. Why anyone would decide they need to set the title that way is beyond me.

At first I thought I had a bug in my HtmlSearch class because pages for classes weren't showing up in my results. When I designed the search, I decided that if the page had no title, it wasn't a relevant search result. Now I have to rethink that decision.

My first thought was to use the first header tag the search could find, but something just doesn't seem right about that. While it would show relevant information, it might not be an accurate representation of the whole page. I just can't assume what the structure of a help document will be.

I think the best bet will be to display the title if it exists, or display the file name if no title exists. I certainly don't want to leave the asdocs out since it is a decent alternative to the regular help files.

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Sat Dec 31, 2005 5:03 am
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The asdocs don't have to be searched.
The HTML file names are explicit be enough.

<asdocs>/MovieClip.html#attachMovie
<asdocs>/flash/geom/Rectangle.html
etc.


Sat Dec 31, 2005 8:46 am
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I will keep that in mind for future enhancements. For now, the asdocs are supported if the user adds them as a help source. The plugin will use the filename of the HTML file for the result title if there is no specified title in the document. I'd rather keep my searching as general as possible, but if I can think of an elegant solution for including specific support for the asdocs, I will.

The next release is moving along nicely. I gave the interface a slight makeover, so it looks a bit nicer. Online and local help sources can be added by the user. I just have to write some fuctionality to save the sources in a settings file so that they can be reloaded every time FlashDevelop is opened.

After I finish that, I plan to expand my Flash help auto-detection. For the first release, I hard-coded "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\" as the default search location. Obviously, Windows could be installed on another drive (I've seen it done!), or the user may speak a different language and "Documents and Settings" might not be the correct folder name. I've already changed it to use the system environment variable for this location, and I plan to attempt to auto-detect the language version of Flash that is installed, so that the plugin supports more languages than just English.

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Sun Jan 01, 2006 12:50 am
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You can read/write entries in the application settings. And you can get environment pathes easily too.
Check the FD plugins to see how they do that - for example in ASCompletion/ASContext.cs


Sun Jan 01, 2006 2:07 am
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I suggest also to change your plugin GUID so that it will not appear as the active panel when you launch FD (I like your panel but I would prefer to have the Files or AS panels active by default). And it looks like panels are arranged by their sorted GUIDs.


Sun Jan 01, 2006 12:44 pm
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I don't get that behavior. On my machine, FD reopens the last active panel. So if I close FD with the Actionscript panel open, it will be active when the next time I launch FD.

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Sun Jan 01, 2006 8:10 pm
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