How to Get Help in Xcode4

The ability to quickly access documentation is a major feature of Xcode, and one you’ll want to use regularly when creating iOS apps. If you have no idea how to do something, or how something works, you can often find the answer in the documentation.

Being able to figure out what's going on will make your life easier. You saw that Xcode will complete your code for you, which is useful when you can’t quite remember the method signature and parameters, but what if you don’t even have a clue?

Or like many developers, you may find yourself wanting to dig deeper when it comes to a particular bit of code. That’s when you’ll really appreciate things like Xcode’s Quick Help, the Documentation pane in the Organizer window, header file access, the Help menu, and the Find tools. With these tools, you can quickly access the documentation for a particular class, method, or property.

To see how easy it is to access help, say that you’ve selected RTMasterViewController.h, as shown in the figure. (The Assistant is hidden to have more room). What if you wanted to find out more about UITableViewController, the super class of RTMasterViewController?

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The Quick Help section of the Utility area provides documentation for a single symbol. (To see the Utility area, click the rightmost View selector button in the top-right corner of the Workspace window and select the second button in the Inspector selector bar.)

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In an editor, click anywhere in the symbol or select the entire symbol, as shown.

Accessing the Quick Help section of the Utility area.
Accessing the Quick Help section of the Utility area.

The Quick Help section of the Utility area shows a description of the symbol and provides links to more information. For example, you can click the UITableViewController Class Reference link near the bottom of the Quick Help section (refer to the figure) to bring up the class reference definition in the iOS Library Reference in the Documentation pane of the Organizer window, as shown in this figure.

The class reference in the Organizer window.
The class reference in the Organizer window.

With the Quick Help section open, information is available for three types of elements in your project, depending on your selection in the open editor:

  • Symbols, in the source editor

  • Interface objects, in Interface Builder

  • Build settings, in the Project editor

It may be more convenient to use a Quick Help window if, for example, you prefer to work with the Utility area hidden. To do so, press Option and click one of the following in the open editor:

  • Symbols, in the source editor

  • Build settings, in the Project editor

As you can see in this figure, a Quick Help window appears with the pointer indicating the item you selected (in this case, the symbol UITableViewController):

The Quick Help window.
The Quick Help window.

If you’re like me and want to go directly to the class reference, press Option and double-click the symbol instead.

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