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Microsoft Help System 1.1 Feature Overview

Visual Studio 2010

This topic provides a high-level overview of the following Microsoft Help Viewer 1.1 features:

  • Managing Help Content and Settings

  • Viewing Content

  • Table of Contents

  • Index

  • Favorites and History

  • Full Text Search

  • F1 Search

You can use the Help Library Manager to set your preference to online help or offline help. To open Help Library Manager, click Manage Help Settings on the Start menu, or from your application’s Help menu.

The first time you launch Help Library Manager, you will be prompted to set the location where local content will be installed. You will not be required to install content locally. Content documenting the Microsoft Help Viewer itself is installed with the viewer.

To set your online/offline preference, click Choose online or local help or Settings from the Help Library Manager. If you select online help, Microsoft Help Viewer will attempt to display content from the MSDN Online library. This requires an Internet connection and the ability to reach the MSDN site. If either of these requirements is not met, you will receive an error message.

If you select offline help as your help preference, you must install content locally. You can install content by running Help Library Manager and clicking Install content from online or Install content from disk. For more information, see Help Library Manager.

Microsoft Help Viewer can display content online in any web browser and local (offline) help content in the Local Help Viewer. Your default browser setting determines the browser used to display online content. To view help content, use the product documentation shortcut installed with your product. See the previous section for information about how to switch between online and offline content.

The table of contents (TOC) is displayed in the Contents tab. The TOC is rendered in a hierarchical manner so that you can explore and discover related documentation without leaving the current context of the topic you are viewing.

The keyword index is displayed in the Index tab. The keywords displayed in the index are terms that most specifically apply to a given topic. For example, you can use the index as a quick way to open an API topic.

Personal favorites (or bookmarks) and your viewing history are displayed in the Favorites tab. You can categorize favorites into folders and rename them based on your personal preferences. The History section displays topics you have visited over the last several weeks.

Microsoft Help Viewer lets you perform full-text searches. Search terms can be combined using the following Boolean operators (listed in order of precedence): AND, OR, and NOT. In case-sensitive locales, the operators must be in uppercase. If these operators appear in lowercase, they are treated as search terms. Parentheses can be used to group search terms and operators.

You can use a wildcard character in searches by specifying an asterisk (*) in your search terms.

Enter full-text search queries by using the text box located on the toolbar directly above the content area. Results of the search, ranked by relevance, are displayed in the Results tab.

Additional Rules for Query Syntax

  • If two search terms are specified without a Boolean operator, the AND operator is used to combine the terms.

  • If a query contains two adjacent operators, the second operator is ignored.

  • Leading and trailing operators are ignored.

F1, also known as context-sensitive help, is a feature of software applications that lets you locate topics relevant to the task you are performing in the application. For example, in a programming language editor that is F1-enabled, you can type a programming language keyword, select it, and then press F1 to display the topic that describes the selected keyword. Microsoft Help Viewer supports F1 searches. However, applications that use Microsoft Help Viewer are not required to implement F1, so this feature may not be available in your application.

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