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Windows SDK July CTP breaks documentation - again RRS feed

  • Question

  • Windows SDK July CTP has once again borked my documentation. This time neither my MSDN Library nor my Visual Studio Combined Help documentation works.

    My MSDN Library link generates the following error message:
    ---------------------------
    Microsoft Document Explorer
    ---------------------------
    Microsoft Document Explorer cannot be shown because the specified help collection 'ms-help://MS.MSDNQTR.v80.en' is invalid.
    ---------------------------
    OK
    ---------------------------

    My Visual Studio 2005 Combined Help loads but has completely lost all the help collections from MSDN, Windows SDK, .NET, and SQL Server. The only things left are minor third-party tools help.


    Repairing Document Explorer get's me a little further. My SQL Server 2005 documentation has magically reappeard. My Combined Help Collection Manager screen now lists more than just third-party tool collections:

    Enterprise Library - January 2006
    Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Mobile Edition
    Infragistics NetAdvantage Collection
    NetAdvantage.Introduction Collection
    Infragistics.Win Collection
    Infragistics.Web Collection
    ReSharper
    Windows SDK Collection
    Microsoft® .NET Framework 3.0; SDK
    Microsoft® .NET Framework 3.0; SDK
    Microsoft Windows SDK
    Workflow Foundation Help

    My MSDN Library link is still borked and now I get to play Hide & Seek with my available collections to figure out one out of each set of duplicates is really the latest version. Is it really so difficult to at least supply the date a collection was added?
    Tuesday, July 18, 2006 3:55 PM

Answers

  • Hi Kevin, I'll try to explain things as I understand it.

    The Combined Help Collection Manager detects ALL help collections on your machine and gives the user the option to integrate those help collections into their VS help environment if they so choose.

    When you install the Windows SDK, we are indeed registering multiple help collections on your system, which is why you're seeing new entries in your Combined Help Collection Manager.  We don't actually register the Windows SDK help collections in Visual Studio. The customer does that by using the CHCM and selecting which help collection they wish to integrate into VS. If you choose not to select any of the Windows SDK help collections from the CHCM then you won't get the duplicate indexes & links problem.

    RE: this statement: "...the Windows SDK does not currently support the Combined Help Collection Manager scenario."

    That was probably misleading. Sorry about that.

    For the Windows Vista SDK we are currently only targeting the .NET FX 3.0 for VS 2005 scenario in the Vista pre-release timeframe. Meaning, careful thought and planning was put into place to create a help collection tailored for developers who want to write Vista/NETFX30 apps in VS 2005. For that purpose customers can install the VS 2005 Tools for .NET FX 3.0, which we mention in our Windows Vista SDK download page. That install integrates a sub-set of the Vista SDK .NET FX 3.0 docs (WPF, WCF, WF content, along with the entire Class Library for Vista/NETFX30 -- content that did not ship in VS 2005 and is new for managed code) so that little to no overlap will occur in the VS doc integrated experience -- meaning, no multiple indexes & links between the WinSDK and VS content.

    The above scenario, however, does not address the non-managed native API content in the Windows Vista SDK that we register as part of our Windows SDK collection (i.e. Win32/COM and Web Development docs). Most of those topics already exist in the VS 2005 Library, but they're the non-Vista version. If you wish to use CHCM to add the Windows SDK collection (Win32/COM/WebDev docs) to your VS help environment then you will run into the multiple indexes & links issue.

    We recognize that your situation is not ideal, and we are working at creating a better solution for the VS Library and Windows SDK in the "Longhorn" Server and VS "Orcas" timeframe to give customers a more consistent and integrated doc experience. VS 2005 has already shipped and we need to deliver our Windows Vista/NETFX30 SDK content to developers on a very frequent schedule up until Vista RTM.

    In the meantime, we have at least two more milestones to deliver the Windows SDK prior to RTM (RC1 & Sept CTP), and I would love hear any suggestions you may have to help us deliver a better user experience for developer documentation.

    Thursday, August 3, 2006 7:06 PM

All replies

  • Hello Kevin, unfortunately the Collection Manager tool was designed specifically to not allow you to plug or unplug the MSDN collections into VSCC since they are in fact the Visual Studio documentation, and we didn't want that to get unintentionally broken for people. Have you tried a repair of the "MSDN Library for Visual Studio 2005"?

     

    Friday, July 28, 2006 10:09 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi Paul

    Just an idea... When the MSDN collections are plugged in, don't allow it to be taken out... when they are not plugged in... allow/force it to be plugged back in... This might save some time for people...

    Best regards,


    Jeroen Landheer.

     

    Tuesday, August 1, 2006 10:01 PM
  • Hi Jeroen - the first part of your suggestion is actually how it is implemented - we do not surface either MSDN or its sub-collections in Collection Manager. The second part we don't do and might be somewhat complicated as it may be hard to determine which is the latest version of MSDN installed on the system. Primarily, we try to govern that behavior through the MSDN install time scenarios.

    Those are still good thoughts though and something we'll reconsider for VS 9.0.

    Thanks!

    Wednesday, August 2, 2006 6:33 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi Kevin,

    Can you please provide detailed repro steps that led you to think that the Windows SDK broke your VS Library documentation? 

    Also, the Windows SDK does not currently support the Combined Help Collection Manager scenario. If it works for you, then great. The Windows SDK, does, however, support the scenario to use VS 2005 Extensions for .NET FX 3.0 (WinFX) where the .NET FX 3.0 content of the Windows SDK is integrated into VS 2005. Unfortunately, there is no July CTP for VS 2005 Extensions for .NET FX 3.0. You can use the June CTP build or wait for RC1.

    Hope this helps,

    Wednesday, August 2, 2006 10:46 PM
  • The steps are actually quite simple. Every time I install a new Windows SDK CTP a new entry is added to my Combined Help Collection Manager screen. This results in duplicate indexes & links that are either broken or present multiple possible paths through a contextual dropdown list. If this forum supported image uploads I'd provide you with screen shots.

    "Also, the Windows SDK does not currently support the Combined Help Collection Manager scenario."

    This statement is obviously in conflict with the information presented in my original post. If the Windows SDK does not support the Combined Help scenario then why is it listed? Why are multiple instances listed when I only have one version of the SDK installed at any time?

    You may not agree with me that the result is a broken or "borked" installation but I hope you do agree that this situation is seriously annoying. The Help Collection presents me with multiple sources of information but does not provide a method to determine the most authoritative source. This in fact is a very serious problem as it undermines my trust in the information and therefore it's usefulness. The assumption that Combined Help is not meant to contain certain types of obviously related information is flawed. It's called "Combined Help". There are no qualifiers which inform me that this is really only a subset of all related help.

    I realize this is not only a technical problem. If it were, I'd take some time out and solve it myself. This is mostly an organization problem. Clearly, multiple groups within Microsoft are allowed to replicate & publish help information with no control or review by a gatekeeper. The result is duplicate sources that contain broken links and are of ambiguous authority. What's really needed is a Combined Help Collection in fact not just in name.

    Thursday, August 3, 2006 1:32 PM
  • Hi Kevin, I'll try to explain things as I understand it.

    The Combined Help Collection Manager detects ALL help collections on your machine and gives the user the option to integrate those help collections into their VS help environment if they so choose.

    When you install the Windows SDK, we are indeed registering multiple help collections on your system, which is why you're seeing new entries in your Combined Help Collection Manager.  We don't actually register the Windows SDK help collections in Visual Studio. The customer does that by using the CHCM and selecting which help collection they wish to integrate into VS. If you choose not to select any of the Windows SDK help collections from the CHCM then you won't get the duplicate indexes & links problem.

    RE: this statement: "...the Windows SDK does not currently support the Combined Help Collection Manager scenario."

    That was probably misleading. Sorry about that.

    For the Windows Vista SDK we are currently only targeting the .NET FX 3.0 for VS 2005 scenario in the Vista pre-release timeframe. Meaning, careful thought and planning was put into place to create a help collection tailored for developers who want to write Vista/NETFX30 apps in VS 2005. For that purpose customers can install the VS 2005 Tools for .NET FX 3.0, which we mention in our Windows Vista SDK download page. That install integrates a sub-set of the Vista SDK .NET FX 3.0 docs (WPF, WCF, WF content, along with the entire Class Library for Vista/NETFX30 -- content that did not ship in VS 2005 and is new for managed code) so that little to no overlap will occur in the VS doc integrated experience -- meaning, no multiple indexes & links between the WinSDK and VS content.

    The above scenario, however, does not address the non-managed native API content in the Windows Vista SDK that we register as part of our Windows SDK collection (i.e. Win32/COM and Web Development docs). Most of those topics already exist in the VS 2005 Library, but they're the non-Vista version. If you wish to use CHCM to add the Windows SDK collection (Win32/COM/WebDev docs) to your VS help environment then you will run into the multiple indexes & links issue.

    We recognize that your situation is not ideal, and we are working at creating a better solution for the VS Library and Windows SDK in the "Longhorn" Server and VS "Orcas" timeframe to give customers a more consistent and integrated doc experience. VS 2005 has already shipped and we need to deliver our Windows Vista/NETFX30 SDK content to developers on a very frequent schedule up until Vista RTM.

    In the meantime, we have at least two more milestones to deliver the Windows SDK prior to RTM (RC1 & Sept CTP), and I would love hear any suggestions you may have to help us deliver a better user experience for developer documentation.

    Thursday, August 3, 2006 7:06 PM
  •  Keith Swem wrote:

    We recognize that your situation is not ideal, and we are working at creating a better solution for the VS Library and Windows SDK in the "Longhorn" Server and VS "Orcas" timeframe to give customers a more consistent and integrated doc experience. VS 2005 has already shipped and we need to deliver our Windows Vista/NETFX30 SDK content to developers on a very frequent schedule up until Vista RTM.

    Keith, thanks for the informative response. I am very pleased that you have aknowledged the problem and are investigating ways to solve it.

     Keith Swem wrote:

    In the meantime, we have at least two more milestones to deliver the Windows SDK prior to RTM (RC1 & Sept CTP), and I would love hear any suggestions you may have to help us deliver a better user experience for developer documentation.

    I am going to take some time to review responses to the two threads I have started on this issue and try to come up with some reasonable solutions. Thanks again for taking the time to respond so completely.

    Thursday, August 3, 2006 7:43 PM
  • Hello,

    I jump on this topic because it is still a big problem and it'll become bigger with each revision.

    What would be good for me as a solution:

    - abstract topics and summaries so the presented order of things could be changed in the future; better the help hierarchies could reflect the developer interest and project.

    - render possible selected (with fine granularity) content updates, insertions. This could enable a smoother integration, open possible help revision and allows better platform support.

     

    Those are big changes but MSDN need them.

    Friday, August 3, 2007 11:06 AM