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Friday, 29 March 2013

Custom Help with SharePoint OOB Features for Business Applications

While working for a SharePoint application, there was a requirement to create a custom help for the application. After some digging, I realised that SharePoint has excellent in built capabilities where we can create specific help for any application and host it in SharePoint. This does not need any coding and just require to enable a feature and then few other steps to configure the same.

Here are steps to create custom help in SharePoint:

1. Enable the Custom Site Collection Help Feature:


2. Once we do this, a new link appears in the Site Collection setting page under Site Collection Setting with the name Help Settings. This allows a user to select what help collections are available when a user click on the help button:


3. Based on our selection in the previous step the help collection appear when a user click on the help icon in any site or any page.

4. Now the best part of this is that adding our custom help in this is very easy. I will put few steps for the same. When we enable the feature given in Step 1, it also create a special document library with the name 'Site Collection Help'.

5. This library allows to create 4 type of artefacts depending on the content types added in the document library by default :


6. Here we need to create the artefacts in a specific order. The Help Collection is top container which has got Help Categories  which are linked to Help Topics (Pages or Documents etc.). We will first create a Help Collection, Few Help Categories and then create Help Topics.

7. I created a Help Collection with the name SharePoint Demo Help. Then created 2 help Categories with the names Help 1 and Help 2. Also inside Help 1, added 2 Help Topics material which were nothing but 2 pdf files.

8. Now we will add this Help Collection. To Do this go to Help Settings:
Now I removed all other help collections and just the one which I created.

9. Now go to any help page. It will look like the below:


The Help 1 & Help 2 are the 2 Help categories which we created in the previous step.

10. Click the Help 1 link and it will show the help topics which we have put inside the Help 1 Categories.

So with the few steps as above it is very simple to create our own specific help for a particular SharePoint Application and host it inside.

Hope it helps!!!
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