Getting offline help for Silverlight (and many other technologies) for VS2010..

Thanks to everyone who took the time to fill out the surveys or chat with Margaret or me at Tech-Ed last week. A special thanks to Patrick and Jan who offered to fill out all of our surveys so that we could go hang out with them. Jokes aside, we gathered a lot of great information and feedback and we are grateful for everyone that took the time to chat with us.

One bit of feedback I received from more than one customer was their frustration with the lack of offline help in VS2010. This is particularly disturbing as I am here to tell you, there is offline help…apparently it’s just not very discoverable (feedback I’ll be passing along to the help viewer team). Hopefully this blog post will help you get started with offline help.

The new help viewer is installed when you install VS2010. As part of the install process, you should be prompted to install the actual help files for .NET 4 and Visual Studio, but if you didn’t get these files, you still can. Also, by opting to download help, you will get many other choices including Silverlight and Windows Phone.

In Visual Studio, click the Help menu and select Manage Help Settings as seen in the following image:



The Help Library Manager opens and you should select Install content from online.


The following dialog opens:



The new help viewer divides content sets into books. For example, in the previous image, you’ll see books for .NET 3.5 and .NET 4. This is a nice system as another bit of feedback I received is that folks get overwhelmed by all the different document versions available. With this model, if you are developing with 3.5, you can opt just to download this documentation.

In the above image, you’ll notice for the .NET Framework 4, that the Status column says Local. This means I already have this content on my machine. The Action column says Add for .NET Framework 3.5, meaning I can download this help. Scrolling down, you’ll see many book choices. When you click on Add, the status updates to Update Pending.

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When you’ve finished making your book choices, should click Update, and the files start downloading. Depending on how many books you’ve selected, the initial download can take awhile, so be prepared.

When the download finishes, you can opt to view local or online help. I typically switch back and forth depending on where I am at. If I’m on an airplane or somewhere with no network connectivity, I use offline help. Otherwise, I typically default to online. To change between offline and online, go back to the Help menu in Visual Studio 2010, and select Manage Help Settings. This time, select the first item, Choose online or local help. The Settings page that displays enables you to choose offline or online.

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Also, once you get offline help installed, you will probably want to install the power tool I mentioned in a previous blog post.

I hope this helps and please let me know if you have any other questions or comments about offline help.



Comments (2)

  1. Funeral Poems says:

    Very helpful and informative post for getting offline help in VS 2010

  2. mvadu says:

    Thank you Cheryl for this tip. If you are still (since this was posted more than18 months ago) in touch with Help Viewer or VS teams, can you ask them to use the context from currently open project (like if I have Windows Phone solution open, I want to see Silverlight version of online documentation). Currently it just defaults to ".NET framework" no matter what I am doing. so its one extra click for each F1 press 🙁

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