Microsoft Help Viewer

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Microsoft Help Viewer
A component of Microsoft Windows
Details
Type Help system
Included with Visual Studio 2010
Replaces Microsoft Help 2

Microsoft Help Viewer 1.x is the offline help system (local help) developed by Microsoft that ships with Visual Studio 2010 and its associated MSDN Library.

Microsoft Help Viewer 1.x supersedes Microsoft Help 2 which is the help system used by Microsoft Visual Studio 2002/2003/2005/2008 and Office 2007.

This is a new product and does not use any of the old help 2 code base. During development it was referred to as MS Help 3.x. With the growing need for a general Unicode based help system, it has the potential of becoming the next general help system for Windows.

History[edit]

  • Jan 2008 - April Reagan [MS PM] blogs that Microsoft will replace Microsoft Help 2.
  • Apr 2009 - At WritersUA 2009 conference April Reagan and Anand Raman announced Microsoft Help 3 will ship with Visual Studio 2010.
  • Nov 2009 - Preview of new offline help ships with the VS 2010 Beta 2.
  • Jan 2010 - Formal name changed from Microsoft Help 3.0 to Microsoft Help Viewer 1.0
  • 12 April 2010 - Microsoft Help Viewer 1.0 is RTM (Release to Manufacturing) as part of the Visual Studio 2010 release.
  • 3 March 2011 - Microsoft Help Viewer 1.1 ships with Service Pack 1 of Visual Studio 2010.

File Format[edit]

Help file has a ".mshc" (Microsoft Help Content) file extension and is simply a standard Zip file renamed. It contains no proprietary files, just the author's content files.

A compiler (Workshop) is not required. Instead help files are ripped (Indexed) at installation time.

Topics files are written in XHTML 1.x compatible HTML. Standard HTML Meta Tags are used to define various topic attributes including the Table of Contents (TOC), Visible Index and F1 Keyword list.

User Experience[edit]

The user experience for Microsoft Help Viewer 1.x is that topics can be viewed in any installed web browser – a separate application, such as the Microsoft Document Explorer included with Microsoft Help 2, is not necessary. The browser-based model is meant to provide a more lightweight navigation, downloading, and reading experience than earlier help-viewer models.

Visual Studio 2010 includes a taskbar applet in the Windows notification area (system tray) that arbitrates between viewing offline help and online help in the browser when F1 is pressed, and resolves help topic URIs to the proper topic page. It also includes a "library manager" application to manage the download, installation and uninstallation of help topics on the system, as well as whether to prefer online help when connected to the Internet.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]