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Strategies for Using Help

Help in Visual Studio .NET is tightly integrated with the development environment (IDE), in an effort to provide you with the information you need based on the context of your development effort. To increase your efficiency in using the IDE, you might like to consider the general situations in which Help might benefit you and where you might find Help in each situation.

Help Available When You Need It

You can find help that is tailored to your current situation.

  • When you first open the box and want information on installation and late-breaking developments in the product or documentation, the Readme holds last minute news and notes about the product. You can also find the latest news and updates on Microsoft.com.
  • While working in the integrated development environment (IDE), the Dynamic Help window can display a choice of links for topics related to your current work. The topics can contain procedures for completing a task, a walkthrough designed to introduce new technologies, or programming practices for completing portions of a development effort. Other categories of Dynamic Help include samples and related training topics. Of course, F1 Help displays reference topics based on the user interface elements you select or error messages you see. You can specify a context for the Dynamic Help window by selecting various points in the integrated development environment. F1 Help displays reference topics based on the UI elements you select or the error messages you see.
  • While you are designing objects and coding their functionality, the editors can offer statement completion that presents the syntax information you need for language keywords, methods, and properties. If you want to examine the functionality of a library or object more broadly, you can use the Object Browser. If you want even more information about the usage and capabilities of a particular language element, you can use F1 Help to display the language reference topic.
  • When the Dynamic Help window and F1 Help do not meet your needs, you can use the Keyword index, Full-Text Search, and Table of Contents provided with Microsoft Document Explorer. Using the MSDN Library, you can research various new technologies. The library includes periodicals and technical articles.

Types of Help and Where to Find It

Although Help topics present information in a variety of ways, each is designed to allow you to accomplish one of the following objectives:

  • Find syntax, language reference, and components
  • Accomplish a goal or perform a task
  • Research and understand concepts

Find Syntax, Language Reference, and Components

If you are looking for information while writing your code, you might try the following suggestions.

If you want to Try
Use a particular keyword and learn about its syntax Editor's statement completion
Object browser
Language reference (F1)
Index
Search
Table of Contents
Find a keyword that provides a certain functionality Editor's statement completion
Language reference
Examples and samples
Read about an editor while editing a document User Interface Reference (Shift + F1)

Accomplish a Goal or Perform a Task

If you know what you want to do and are looking for ideas on how to do it, you might try the following suggestions.

If you want to Try
Create something new Dynamic Help Window
Walkthrough topics
Samples
Index
Use the windows, dialog boxes, designers, and tools F1 Help
Dynamic Help window
Contents window
Resolve issues noted by error messages F1 Help
Error message topics

Research and Understand Concepts

If you are interested in more descriptions and explanations so you can better understand what is available, recommended, or how something does what it does, you might try the following suggestions.

If you want more information about Try
A specific technology and its uses What's New topics
Index window
Search window
Dynamic Help window
Samples
Existing technologies, what is new, and what has changed. What's New topics
Dynamic Help window
Index window
Search window
Contents window
Modifying and upgrading existing development efforts Dynamic Help window
Index window
Search window
Samples
Learning to program by using Visual Studio .NET Visual Studio .NET - Academic Edition
Language Reference examples
Samples
Contents window
Information related to the topic you currently have open See Also links
Contents window
Index window
Search window

See Also

Dynamic Help Window | Browsing Code and Components | Microsoft Document Explorer Windows | Graphics within Help Topics | Finding Information with Full-Text Search

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