#0203 – SQL Server 2012 – Deploy local Help/Books-On-Line collection-Instructions

Recently, Pinal Dave, a.k.a SQLAuthority (B|T) wrote a piece about Managing Help settings in the SSMS for SQL Server 2012. That post prompted me to write this post around local deployment of the SQL Server Books On Line collection for SQL Server 2012.

The SSMS for SQL Server 2012 comes with very visible UI changes. For starters, it comes with the Visual Studio 2010 shell (if you would like to know more about the capabilities of the SSMS, please follow my 10-part tutorial on the topic here: Getting started with SSMS). One of the other major differences is that the Books-On-Line or Help collection is no longer available locally (i.e. deployed on the client machine) by default. The default mode for the help is online.

There are at least two benefits that I can see from having the help online:

  1. Saves space on the client machine
  2. One never has out-of-date help content, because the help is online!

There are however, a few instances wherein you would prefer to have the help installed locally. For example, when you would like to work while travelling or in case the IT policy at your office does not allow open Internet access. For such circumstances, the SSMS for SQL Server 2012 does allow the help collection to be deployed locally, which is what I will be demonstrating through this post.

Pre Requisite

Download and extract the contents of Product Documentation for Microsoft SQL Server 2012 for firewall and proxy restricted environments. This is approximately a 200MB download, so please check your available bandwidth and data plan costs before proceeding with the download.

Steps to install & configure local help

Press the key combination “Ctrl+Alt+F1” or go to Help –> Manage Help Settings
The Help Library Manager would be launched

Installing Help from local source

Once the offline product documentation has been extracted, you can use the following steps to install:

Choose to “Install Content from disk”
Select the “HelpContentSetup.msha” file from the extracted offline documentation.
Click “Next” and choose to “Add” any/all help packages of your choice
Click “Update” to begin extraction and deployment of the local help content
Once the installation is complete, click “Finish”

Installing Help from online source

If you do not want to download the entire 200MB help/product documentation package, you can also install it from an online source. This mode allows you to choose the specific topics for which you would like to download the help.

Choose “Install Content from Online” on the Help Library Manager window.
The system fetches the product group and associated production documentation material listing.
Choose “Add” to add the documentation to the download and install list. Notice that upon clicking “Add”, the status changes to “Update pending” indicating that the content will be updated from the online store when the user presses “Update” button (similar to offline install shown above).

Configuring online v/s local help collection usage

Once that the local help collection is downloaded and deployed, users can choose to switch from online to local help mode.

Click on “Choose online or local help” in the Help Library Manager
Set your preferred Help experience and click “OK”. You are now ready to use your newly downloaded local help collection.

Until we meet next time,

Be courteous. Drive responsibly.


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