By: Kris Houser
Abstract: Describes how to use the help and its viewer, and how to search the help successfully.
Do you want to optimize your chances of success when you search the RAD Studio online help? This article presents several easy ways to improve your access to online help by leveragung the features of the RAD Studio help viewer (the Microsoft document explorer, Dexplore.exe).
You can choose specific help volumes (such as local help or MSDN Online) to be used in the Search and Index functions. For example, you can limit your searches to include only the local help provided by RAD Studio, and you can specify that the help viewer displays local help first or help from online providers first. The help viewer has a filter that enables you to narrow your search even further; see suggested filter settings in "Executive Summary" and under "Using the Help Filters."
Use the following settings to display only RAD Studio help topics in the help viewer:
The RAD Studio Help Viewer Window has two major panes. Here is the default window layout:
You can open the Search, Index and Contents features in three places in the help viewer:
You can close any of the tabbed panes by clicking the x in the upper right corner of the pane.
To reopen a pane, click Search, Index, or Contents in either the Help menu or the help viewer's toolbar:
SEARCHING INSIDE A HELP TOPIC: To search for text inside the topic currently displayed in the help viewer, choose Edit>Find in this Topic (Ctrl+F).
COPY AND PASTE TEXT: You can copy all or a selected portion of the contents of a help topic to the clipboard. Just highlight the text and use Ctrl+C or Edit>Copy. Then you can paste the captured help contents into an email, a text editor, or a bug report.
COPY AND PASTE HELP URLs: You can also copy the URL of a help topic (such as ms-help://embarcadero.rs2010/rad/What's_New_in_Delphi_and_C++Builder_2010.html) from the help viewer window. Then you can paste the URL into an email, a text editor, or a bug report. Citing the URL of a help topic can be very useful when reporting bugs you find in the online help. Later, anyone can paste the URL into the help viewer and display the topic in question. You can also paste a standard Internet URL address (such as http://www.embarcadero.com or http://docwiki.embarcadero.com/RADStudio/en/Main_Page) into the help viewer URL field. The help viewer is essentially an HTML browser similar to Internet Exlorer.
The Table of Contents provides an easy way to navigate the online help -- that is, if you are familiar with the organization of the Contents. You can use the Contents to browse through several libraries of help to find related topics.
The RAD Studio Contents is organized into three major libraries:
SYNCHRONIZING WITH THE TABLE OF CONTENTS
Clicking the Sync with Table of Contents button in the toolbar synchronizes the Contents pane with the displayed help topic:
This button displays the Contents tab and places focus on the Contents entry that matches the current help topic. The Sync with Table of Contents button enables you to:
The Sync with Table of Contents button is disabled when the current topic is not listed in the Table of Contents.
The Index is another very useful way to search for topics in the help.
Hide imageClick to see full-sized image
GENERAL STRATEGY: To get the best search results, start by consulting the Index. Then use Search if the Index does not lead you to the information you seek. If possible, enter an exact string inside double quotes to help narrow the search.
Many people are reluctant to use the Search mechanism in the help because a search might yield hundreds of topics. In some instances, however, the only way to find information is by using the Search, not by using the Index or Contents, so specifying a search string is key.
WHAT THE SEARCH COMMAND DOES: The Search command searches every topic and can find exact text inside a topic. (To search for an exact string, place the string inside quotation marks, such as "Project Manager".) On the other hand, the Index and Contents are essentially built from tags inside the help topics. For example, a help topic that only once mentions CodeGuard might not be indexed under CodeGuard. But if you do a Search on CodeGuard, that file would be listed in the results.
SORTING YOUR SEARCH RESULTS: Located above the search results are two sorting fields that give you some control over the order of the results, Sort by and Sorted in ascending/descending order:
Use the Sort by field to specify that the results are to be arranged by:
The following Search example yields the maximum numbers of hits (500 local hits in RAD Studio help, plus hundreds of hits in 3rd party and online help):
Although a net of 500 topics seems daunting, keep in mind that the first topics in the list are the strongest matches to your Search string. If you scan the first screen of topic titles, you can eliminate many of them without opening the topics, and open only the ones that have likely sounding titles. If you open a topic and wonder what general area it came from (is it from the Delphi Language Guide? the C++ Language Guide? the dialog help? the VCL/RTL?), you can use the Sync with Table of Contents button to see where the topic resides in the contents.
The 3rd party and online help sources (such as MSDN Online) are conveniently presented on separate tabs in the Search results display. You can, however, eliminate them entirely if you want to do so.
You can control whether third party help is included in the Index and Contents.
As typically installed, RAD Studio online help contains the help for several 3rd party products, such as Internet Direct (Indy) and the Dinkumware Library. When the filter for the Index and Contents of the help is set appropriately, the help for these products is integrated into the help Index and appears as separate volumes in the Contents. By adjusting help viewer options, you can give preference to either local help (RAD Studio help) or help from online sources, and you can completely eliminate external help from Search results if you so desire.
The Search results in the following example contain only the RAD Studio help, no external help (only the "Local Help" tab is displayed). This example uses the settings described in "Executive Summary" and in this section:
The following paragraphs describe the settings that enable you to specify the help volumes to be used in the Index and Search on the help viewer.
Use the Tools>Options>Help>Online dialog box to specify whether Search will include external sources or only RAD Studio help (local help). The "Search these providers" settings illustrated in the following screenshot theoretically permit the inclusion of online and 3rd party help. However, only local help (RAD Studio help) is included in Search results because"Try local only, not online" is selected in the "When loading Help content" field (even though other help providers are checked in "Search these providers"):
The following table summarizes the options that you can set on the Tools/Options/Help/Online dialog box:
* NOTE: ELIMINATING THIRD PARTY HELP FROM YOUR SEARCHES
To see only Embarcadero RAD Studio help in your Search results, and to eliminate all external (online) help sources, select Try local only, not online in the When loading Help content field on the Tools>Options>Help>Online dialog box.
INDEX AND CONTENTS FILTERS: These filters serve to eliminate everything from the Index and Contents except for the subject matter indicated in the filter, as follows:
TIP: To include all of RAD Studio help, select the RAD Studio filter or the RAD Studio, Dinkumware C++, Indy filter. Both of these filters include help for the VCL, FireMonkey, and all personalities (Delphi and C++Builder).
To select the commands and toolbars that will appear in the help viewer, click Tools>Customize:
On the Tools/Customize dialog box, you can specify and rearrange the commands that appear in the menus and toolbars of the help viewer, create new menus of your own, specify whether shortcuts are to appear (such as Ctrl+C for Copy), and create new shortcuts of your own.
To close and reopen the various panes in the help viewer, use any of the following:
Many combinations are possible, and this article describes only a few. Experiment yourself to find the combination that you like.
To move the various panes of the help viewer window:
To manage the appearance and layout of the help viewer window, use the Window menu commands (Floating, Dockable, Tabbed Document, Autohide, and Hide) in the help viewer. Try different arrangements of the help viewer panes to suit different needs. To return the help viewer window to its original, default layout, click Window>Reset Window Layout.
CLOSING AND RESTORING PANES: To close a pane in the help viewer, either click the x in the upper right corner of the pane, or right-click the title bar of the pane and select the context-menu command Hide. To restore a pane that you have hidden or closed, either click the appropriate toolbar command or choose the appropriate Help menu command (Search, Contents, Index, or Help Favorites).
USING AUTO HIDE: The Auto Hide command is on the context menu that displays when you right-click the title bar of a pane in the help viewer. Auto Hide hides the pane, but the help viewer still displays a vertical tab on the side of the pane. Auto Hide is useful for expanding the topic display area without resizing the window.
To temporarily view a pane that has been Auto-Hidden, either mouse-over the vertical tab or choose the appropriate Help menu command (Index, Contents, Search). Clicking the vertical tab of an Auto-Hidden pane restores the pane but retains the Auto Hide property and the vertical tab. To revert the Auto Hide property for a pane, either right-click the title bar of the pane or select the Window menu, and toggle Auto Hide.
The following URL is the address of a Microsoft help topic ("How to Manage Help Windows") that more fully describes how to manage the help windows of the Dexplore help viewer:
You can add your own Help Favorites tab to the help viewer, just as you bookmark Web pages in a Web browser. When a topic is displayed that you want to save, just right-click the help topic in the viewer, and select Add to Help Favorites from the context menu.
The Add to Help Favorites command does the following for you:
When you click a topic title on the Help Favorites tab, you go directly to the help topic that you have designated as your favorite.
HELP FAVORITES CONTEXT MENU COMMANDS: The Help Favorites page has a small set of commands for managing the contents of the page. The following four icons/commands are available on both the context menu and on the toolbar of the Help Favorites page:
Renaming favorite topics can help you remember their contents. For example, you might change "Features of Widgets" to "Widget Hyperdrive" so that you can easily remember what is important to you in the help topic. (When you change the title of a topic, the title is changed only on the Help Favorites page, not in the Contents, the Index, or in the help topic file itself.)
ADDING SEARCH RESULTS TO HELP FAVORITES: Besides saving help topics as Help Favorites, you can also save the results of Help Searches on the Help Favorites tab. Just click the Save Search button on the toolbar when the right-hand pane displays search results you want to keep. Saving Search results enables you to review the search results repeatedly, without having to repeat the Search command. You will find more information about Search commands later in this article.
You can activate or deactivate several useful features of the help viewer by using the Tools>Options>Help>General dialog box:
The following table summarizes the options that you can set on the Tools/Options/Help/General dialog box:
CHANGING COLORS: You can define the colors that the help viewer uses for text and for background. The colors you choose will apply to both the help viewer and Internet Explorer. For instructions on changing the colors, select Tools/Options in the help viewer and then press F1.
Copyright © 2012 Embarcadero Technologies, Inc.. All rights reserved.
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