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Tech Tip: Getting Help in 4D
Published On: March 11, 1999

Currently, the 4th Dimension language has 1,486 commands, functions and constants. How can 4D developers possibly remember the syntax of that many commands? Luckily, they don't have to!

During the installation process of 4th Dimension, a help file gets installed that you can use in the method editor. On MacOS, this file (named 4D Help) is installed inside the ACI Folder located inside the active System:Preferences folder. On Windows, the help file (named 4d.hlp) is installed inside the same folder as 4th Dimension.

To use the help file on Macintosh:

1. Open any method.
2. Click on the word "Commands" in the "Commands" window pane to view the commands alphabetically.
3. Choose Show Balloons from the Help menu.

Now, simply point to a 4D command or function and its syntax will be displayed in the balloon help dialog. Additional information is also given, such as the page number for the command in the Language Reference manual, the chapter it's in, and the version number of 4D in which the command was first introduced.

On Windows, you can get help in several ways. The first method is to choose "Contents", "Search for Help On…", or "How to Use Help…" from the Help menu. If you chose "Contents," you will see the commands listed by theme. You then have other options available to you within the help window.

The second way of using help on Windows is to select a command in the method editor. If you wanted to get help on the command ADD RECORD for example, simply highlight the word ADD RECORD and press the F1 key.

This brings up the help window with the complete text description of the command as found in the Adobe Acrobat pdf document.

The help system is even better in the upcoming version 6.5! In 4D version 6.5, you will be able to view a command's syntax by clicking on the command's name in the Explorer window. The preview area (when it is visible) then displays the command's syntax, a brief description of the parameter(s), as well as the page number of the Language Reference manual where the command is described.

If you then drag the command from the Explorer window into the Method Editor, it inserts the command inside the method with all of its parameters. This feature keeps you from forgetting any parameters while writing a method.

Example: QUERY({Table}{;queryArgument}{;*})

You will also be able to view a command's syntax from within the Method Editor. To do this, type or highlight a command in the method editor and press the enter key. The command's syntax will then be displayed in a new area at the top of the Method Editor window.