IDE Help Helper

Overview

This expert provide the ability to search external sources for help on editor identifiers when the IDE cannot provide any context information.

DGHIDEHelpHelper

I wrote this because it would seem that the later IDEs (XE7 as an example) no longer contain the Win32/64 MS help they used to therefore pressing F1 in the editor for help on say FileCopyEx will not get you very far. This expert in this instance will check whether the IDE can provide help for this context word and if not, allow you to search external internet sources like Google or MSDN automatically (you can configure these – see below).

I will be writing a blog post on how this works (from an OTA point of view) as a new article on the Open Tools API so you can all understand what I’ve done.

Browser Interface

This browser is built from a minimalist point of view to save screen space.

On the left of the address / URL bar are the Back and Forward buttons. On the right are the Stop, Refresh, Open (open in an external browser) and Config buttons.

You can type a new URL into the address bar and press enter and it will be displayed and you can type a word and press enter to get a default (IE) search for the word.

Configuration

This configuration dialogue can be invoked from the gear toolbar icon at the far right of the browser toolbar.

DGHIDEHelpHelperConfig

The dialogue allows you to configure / reconfigure Search URLS. Each Search URL MUST have a %s within it at the location where the identifier word from the editor needs to be inserted for a valid search.

Also you can add Permanent URLs that will always be available from the down down URL list in the browser.

Download

Below is a link to an initial XE7 build for this expert. It contains all the code so you should be able to recompile it for other version back to 2007 (previous versions don’t have the IOTAHelpServices interface). Once I’ve updated to RAD Studio 10 Seattle I’ll attempt to create DLLs for previous versions of the IDE however I current don’t have all the IDEs.

Please note that there are only builds for 2009, 2010, XE, XE2, XE7 and XE10 due to the limitation described on the Open Tools API and the fact that the IOTAHelpServices interface does not exist in version of RAD Studio earlier than 2007.

For information on installing this expert please refer to my post Compiling and Installing my experts and wizards….

4 thoughts on “IDE Help Helper

  1. johan

    Note that you can simply download the Win32 help file and update the registry so that it links.

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Embarcadero\BDS\17.0\Help\HtmlHelp1Files\Win32 <- C:\borland\delphi10\help\Doc\Win32.chm

    That's all.

    1. David Post author

      Johan,

      Thanks for this. Where are you suggesting I download the Win32 help from or are you referring to old Win32 help from say D7 (haven’t found anything to suggest this could be done or from where the information should be downloaded)?

  2. Darryl Patenaude

    David, Just discovered your site from reading Marco’s blog.

    Regarding IDE Help Helper: does it work with the bookmarks which are a part of a browser?

    For example, I tend to add a large number of bookmarks to my Firefox Bookmarks and usually include any number of tags. The tags are used as keywords for later searches when using the Firefox Search field found as a part of the Bookmarks sidebar. I will add bookmarks and tags whenever I find something on the internet of interest and especially if it helps me with something about Delphi/Object Pascal/RAD Studio. The tags are usually numerous and if the topic is about something Delphi, say, a VCL object or some aspect of the IDE, I will include a tag that matches the name of the VCL object or its class, etc. The end result of what I envision is to use your creation from the IDE in order to also show what I have already bookmarked in the browser without having to switch to the browser and to perform a search.

    TIA, DJ

    1. David Post author

      Darryl,
      The first thing to note is the TWebBrowser component used will bring up Internet Explorer not Firefox and there is no bookmark functionality drawn down from IE (you can add permanent URLs (see the options dialogue) which are always available). I don’t actually think its possible to change the browser from IE although I also would prefer FF to IE. I’m not familiar with tag in FF but feel free to modify the add-in if it helps (I generally PDF anything I find that’s useful). Its intention was as a quick tool to find information not necessarily a replacement for a main browser. There is one bug I need to correct (which I found late yesterday) where a closed browser would not re-appear on successive presses of F1 – should be simple to fix.
      regards
      Dave.

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