Download the Flash Player ActionScript 3 reference files as a single zip

For some reason, I always have trouble finding and download the Flash ActionScript 3 language documentation. The LiveDocs are easy to find, but the zipped documentation – which is super useful to have locally for faster access and for quick help at the press of F1 if you install it on a tool like FDT – is somehow difficult to find if you just use Google to look for it (too much noise). Plus, the official reference page contains a Zip package that is out-of-date (from 2008!). Grrrr (Edited at August 11th, 2011: apparently this page has been removed and now redirects to the Flash Help online index).

Anyway, the direct link to the archived AS3 reference files seems to be this. Thanks to @sfdesigner for coming up with this mysterious link. The source page for this link seems to be the ActionScript reference archive.

Hopefully this will be helpful to some other people out there (and I’m naively hoping posting this here will help Google and other search engines take people to the right link).

Bonus: the Flex 4.5 API beta reference (for Flash 11) can be found here, although there’s no download option yet.

Update for FDT users (August 11th, 2011): while the package linked above contains the correct documentation, there’s a big problem with the new “standalone zip” file provided: much of the content is build dynamically, by JavaScript present on the page (since you can selected which packages and frameworks you want to see on the lists, online). Because of this, the documentation sort of works locally, although it tries to contact remove servers (it doesn’t work on MSIE at all; navigation is impossible since you get endless warnings and redirects to the front page). The real issue with all this is that because FDT parses the HTML to find reference to the classes and its members, it can’t properly index the dynamic documentation anymore; when using the above zip as a reference, much of the actual information is gone.

The real solution to this – and to the fact that the online LiveDocs version has too many packages and frameworks that may be useless to some developers – would be to allow a download of the LiveDocs without any kind of dynamic content creation, and with frameworks properly pre-selected (for example, I want the latest version of the AIR and Flash Player API to be listed, but no Flash Lite, and no other framework whatsoever). But this would probably take a big time for development and I’m not sure whether either Adobe or PowerFlasher (makers of FDT) have that as a high priority. Maybe a Chrome/Firefox/Browser extension could do the trick (something that allows you to download a site with pages pre-rendered after JavaScript execution), but I couldn’t find any such extension that acted on subpages.

Anyway, this is all to say that if you want the documentation to work properly in FDT, you have no option other than getting a copy of the Flash documentation and using it instead. This page contains such a copy that is moderately up-to-date (August 2010), and it’s what I’m using on FDT now.

Update for FDT users (July 1st, 2013): FDT has been updated with a fix that allows uses to import the “” file directly, instead of trying to read the Flash IDE help format. Just go to the help settings window and import the downloaded file.

10 responses

  1. Cheers for the link 🙂
    How do you get them working successfully in FDT4?
    I added the extracted folder in the FDT Flash Help options and it indexed for several minutes and told me to restart Eclipse, but now that I’ve done that it throws an error when pushing F1 over a selection. Looking back at the Flash Help options I my drop down list is still empty. Any ideas?

  2. Tim: yeah, this is one of those other MYSTERIOUS things that seem impossible to get it to work perfectly.

    Anyway, the combo will always be empty – it’s only populated when it finds your Flash installation or something. You can ignore it.

    You really have to use the field on the bottom (“Path to HelpPanel/Help”) to import the help. The problem is that it makes a million years to import it, and you’ll only know if it worked after importing and restarting… so yeah, it can be a frustrating experience.

    Anyway, I’ve relied on this technique and it works:

    1. Download the content of the AS3 language reference (article link)
    2. Extract the content somewhere
    3. Create a new folder somewhere (any name), then create a folder called “Flash_10.0” inside of it
    4. Move the content that is *inside* the “langref” folder (from the zip) to inside the “Flash_10.0” folder. This means you’d have a file on a location “c:\somethingsomething\Flash_10.0\index.html”.
    5. Go to FDT, menu “Window > Preferences”, tree item “FDT > Tools > Flash Help”, and fill the “Path to HelpPanel/Help” field with the location of your “Flash_10.0” parent folder (e.g., “c:\somethingsomething\”
    6. Click “update help”
    7. Wait. It will take a long time
    8. Restart

    Write code, move cursor on top of known class property, press F1. Should be working now. I just re-did it here to update my reference and it’s working.

    You can also delete the old folder created with the reference, since they’re already copied to FDT’s own help folder.

    It sounds sort of insane in retrospect. I think the help importing was done with Flash CS in mind and now it just doesn’t work that well with Flex-based language reference. I hope they make it easier in a future version; having the help available at the press of a key is an invaluable tool.

  3. Just tested “Doc?”.

    Seems to be good, but really, for me, nothing is more practical than pressing F1 on a class method on FDT. “Doc?” has an eclipse plugin but it’s just search — F1 takes me exactly to the member I want. Just wanted to make this clear.

  4. Hi Zeh,

    Thanks for that info. I’ve got it working now. Yes as you’ve said the trick is to rename the langref folder to ‘Flash_10.0’ but to select its parent folder instead.

    Thanks 😀

  5. Thanks for the info Zeh! This is really what I need right now. I wonder why Adobe don’t put the link on their livedocs. Perhaps it because the zipped version is an outdated version of the reference.

    Instead of using “Doc?”, there is another AIR application by Jamie that work on livedocs by doing cache of the online material locally. You can found the application at here:

    However, there is no search function on the app. It just great for browsing packages and classes. And also cache the live version of the reference on your computer for later browsing.

    I wonder if you could give me a clue on how doing the thing with FDT on Flash Develop. It will be a great help for me as I am a fans of Flash Develop.

  6. Hey, thanks for the link! it is really hard to find on their website

    on another note, if anyone is using a mac, you can download a program called “Dash” in the mac app store, which is by far the most useful program ever when you are programming, as it takes .docset files (basically a folder that has the local documentation, html files css files and whatnot and a sqlite database that has a index of what page has what methods, properties, interfaces, etc) so as a result its super fast, supports many languages ,and i recently made a docset for actionscript. Check it out!


    Well, here u will be able to find new full referance for “AIR 3.1 and earlier, Flash Player 11.1 and earlier, Flash Lite 4” and “Flex 4.6 and earlier, Flash Professional CS5.5 and earlier, Adobe Digital Enterprise Platform Data Services for Java EE 4.6 and earlier, Adobe Digital Enterprise Platform (version 10.0.1) and earlier, BlazeDS 4, ColdFusion 9.0.1 and earlier, Open Source Media Framework 1.6 and earlier, Open Source Media Framework for Flex 4.0”

    it’s almost the latest – missing only AIR 3.2, Flash Player 11.2 and Open Source Media Framework 2.0(but who needs this latest stuff??? 🙂


    P.S. if link doest work checkout for “Full documentation set (ZIP)”

  8. @mark grandi: that is precisely the same “standalone” pack that is mentioned on the article on the August 2011 update. It doesn’t work. Try extracting the HTML reference and you’ll see it’s unusable. It works for local browsing (and even still only in some browsers), but not for FDT importing.

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