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Using SQL Server Books Online

SQL Server Books Online covers the concepts and procedures required to use SQL Server effectively. SQL Server Books Online also includes reference material covering the languages and programming interfaces for storing, retrieving, reporting, and modifying data by using SQL Server.

Microsoft Document Explorer, the viewer for SQL Server Books Online, includes many features designed to make it easier and faster to find information in the documentation set.

You can access SQL Server Books Online in the following ways:

  • From the Start menu - Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Microsoft SQL Server, point to Documentation and Tutorials, and then click SQL Server Books Online.

  • From SQL Server Management Studio - On the Help menu, click How Do I, Search, Contents, Index, or Help Favorites.

  • From SQL Server Business Intelligence Development Studio - On the Help menu, click How Do I, Search, Contents, Index, or Help Favorites.

  • From F1 or Help buttons in the user interface - For context-sensitive information, press F1 on your keyboard, or click Help in the user interface dialog box.

  • From the Dynamic Help window - The Dynamic Help window automatically displays links to Books Online topics related to the task you are doing. To launch Dynamic Help, click Dynamic Help on the Help menu in SQL Server Management Studio or Business Intelligence Development Studio.

You can find information in the following ways:

  • Navigating the table of contents.

  • Looking up keywords in the index.

  • Searching on words and phrases in local and online Help topics, and filtering the search results if you want.

  • Browsing a categorized set of links (How Do I pages) to help with common user tasks.

  • Browsing a dynamically generated list of list of context-dependent topics in the Dynamic Help window.

  • Pressing F1 while viewing a user interface element to display a topic about it.

SQL Server and Document Explorer introduce new features and enhance existing ones to help users find information faster. The following table briefly describes the new and enhanced features in SQL Server Books Online and provides links to more information about them.

Feature

Description

Contents

Groups topics logically by technology, component, and task, as appropriate, for easy browsing.

To filter Contents, select a predefined filter from the Filtered by drop-down list.

Index

Allows you to search for SQL Server topics alphabetically by keyword or task.

To filter Index, select a predefined filter from the Filtered by drop-down list.

Search

A search engine for performing filtered or unfiltered keyword searches of topics.

For more information, see the Using Search to Locate Help Topics section after this table.

How Do I

A hierarchical set of pages that contains topics on common SQL Server tasks, grouped by technology.

For more information, see How Do I (SQL Server).

Help Favorites

Allows you to save topics and search results for easy retrieval.

Dynamic Help

Automatically displays links to relevant information while users work in the SQL Server Management Studio or Business Intelligence Development Studio environment.

You can search both local and online sources of Help in SQL Server Books Online. Four resources provide results on the Search page: Local Help, MSDN Online, Codezone Community, and Questions.

  • Local Help.   Local Help is the set of topics installed with SQL Server Books Online from the SQL Server installation media. In Business Intelligence Development Studio, local Help may also include the MSDN Library, which is included with Visual Studio. For information about how to update local Help, see Downloading and Updating Books Online.

  • MSDN Online.   The Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) is a set of services designed to help developers write applications by using Microsoft products and technologies. MSDN provides Knowledge Base articles, white papers, interviews, and sample code for software developers who use Microsoft products. SQL Server Books Online topics are part of the MSDN Library.

  • Codezone Community.   The Codezone Community site is a resource for third-party tips, code samples, advice, and news from independent experts on SQL Server, the Microsoft .NET Framework, and Microsoft Visual Studio .NET technologies.

  • Questions.   The Questions selection allows you to search content in MSDN Forums.

To filter search results from each of these providers, select one or more options from Technology or Content Type on the Search page. The following table lists the Technology and Content Type filters.

Filter type

Filter values

Technology

SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services

SQL Server 2008 Data Mining

SQL Server 2008 Data Mining Extensions (DMX)

SQL Server 2008 Database Engine

SQL Server 2008 Integration Services

SQL Server 2008 Multidimensional Expressions (MDX)

SQL Server 2008 Replication

SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services

SQL Server 2008 Transact-SQL

Content Type

SQL Server 2008 Conceptual Topics

SQL Server 2008 Error Messages

SQL Server 2008 How-to Topics

SQL Server 2008 Programming Reference Topics

SQL Server 2008 Query Language Reference Topics

SQL Server 2008 Samples

SQL Server 2008 Tutorials

SQL Server 2008 User Interface Reference Topics

To view search results from online providers in a different language, click Options in the Tools menu, select the General page under Help, and select Online topic language. To display results in both English and another language, select Also show English topics.

In Document Explorer, you can specify whether you want to include information from online sources in your Help experience. Three options are available.

  • Try online first, and then local. The online versions of topics from Books Online will appear when you select How Do I or press F1. If you are not connected to the Internet and local Help is installed, Help will still display local Help topics. Both local and online topics will appear in search results.

  • Try local first, and then online. The local versions of topics from Books Online will appear when you select How Do I or press F1. If a local Help topic is not available, Help will look for an online version of the topic. Both local and online topics will appear in search results.

  • Try local only, not online. The local versions of topics from Books Online will appear when you select How Do I or press F1. Only local topics will appear in search results.

The selection can be made in two ways:

  • Online Help Settings dialog box. This dialog box appears the first time that you search for a topic, press F1 or click Help in a dialog box, or select How Do I from the Help menu.

  • Options page. In the Tools menu, click Options, open the Online page under Help, and select an option under When loading Help content.

To adjust Help settings, click Options on the Tools menu, expand the Help subfolder, and then click General or Online. Here are some of the settings that can be adjusted:

  • Enable Integrated Help. In SQL Server Management Studio or Business Intelligence Development Studio, you can configure Help to open as docked windows in the environment. To enable integrated Help, select Integrated Help Viewer from the Show help using dropdown on the General page.

  • Show or hide topic abstracts. To show topic abstracts in search results, select Show topic abstracts on the General page.

  • Modify number of search results per page. To adjust the number of search results that appear on the search page at a given time, change the value or Search results per page on the General page.

  • Modify language of search results. To view search results from online providers in a different language, select Online topic language on the General page. To display results in both English and another language, select Also show English topics.

  • Modify online preferences. See the "Using Online Help Features in SQL Server Books Online" section in this topic.

  • Modify search providers. To adjust the list of search providers, select the providers you want from the Search these providers and Codezone Community list boxes on the Online page.

NoteNote

SQL Server Books Online shares Help settings with SQL Server Management Studio, but not with Business Intelligence Development Studio, which has independent Help settings.

This table contains information about features within Help topics.

Collapse All

Click Collapse All to show or hide content in the major sections of a topic.

See Also

Click See Also to browse a list of related topics.

Send Feedback

SQL Server Books Online users provide valuable information through the feedback mechanism built into SQL Server documentation. To send feedback, click Send Feedback. For more information, see Providing Feedback for SQL Server 2008.

Copy Code

Click Copy Code to copy a code sample to the clipboard on your computer.

By default, SQL Server Books Online launches the Books Online portal topic. However, you can create a desktop shortcut for the DExplorer help viewer that opens Books Online to any selected topic that has an F1 help keyword.

  1. In Books Online, open the desired launch topic, right-click in the right pane, and select View Source. Look for the MSHelp:Keyword tag that specifies Index = "F". The Term="string" value specifies the F1 help keyword.

    For example, the Transact-SQL Syntax Conventions topic has the following F1 help keyword:

    <MSHelp:Keyword Index="F" Term="sql10.TSQLExpandPortal.f1" />

  2. Copy the SQL Server Books Online shortcut from the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 program group to your desktop, right-click, and select Properties.

  3. The end of the string in the Target box should be "/LaunchNamedUrlTopic SqlServerBooksOnline".

    • Replace the string "/LaunchNamedUrlTopic" with "/LaunchFKeywordTopic".

    • Replace the string "SqlServerBooksOnline" with the F1 help keyword from the desired launch topic, such as "sql10.TSQLExpandPortal.f1".

You can also use this procedure to open Books Online with a specific part of the table of contents expanded in the Contents pane after you synchronize with the table of contents. In the desktop shortcut, specify the F1 help keyword of the first child topic in the table of contents node you want expanded. For example, if you launch Books Online with the Transact-SQL Reference topic, the Transact-SQL Reference node will be collapsed when you select Sync with Table of Contents. If you launch Books Online with the first topic after Transact-SQL Reference (Transact-SQL Syntax Conventions), then the Transact-SQL Reference section will be expanded automatically when you select Sync with Table of Contents.

Not all topics in Books Online have F1 help keywords, and this process cannot be applied to topics that do not have F1 help keywords. Sometimes multiple topics have the same F1 help keyword. In that case, the topic you want may not be the one opened when you launch Books Online; you will have to select it from the F1 Options drop-down list box at the top of the topic.

The following table lists some common F1 keywords to use.

Topic

SQL Server 2008 F1 help keyword

Transact-SQL Reference

sql10.tsqlref.f1

Transact-SQL Syntax Conventions (entire Transact-SQL Reference node will be expanded)

sql10.TSQLExpandPortal.f1

System Stored Procedures

sql10.SQLSysNoExpandPortal.f1

Catalog Views

(entire Systems node in the Transact-SQL Reference will be expanded)

sql10.SysViewExpandPortal.f1

For more information about the DExplore.exe switches, see DExplore Command Line Options.

Updated content

Added the section named Specifying the Launch Topic in Books Online.

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