Customizing Help

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Web sites based on Microsoft are fully customizableyou can add any type of Web page to the site, and all kinds of interactive content to the pages. To complement this flexibility in the site, the Help system for was designed to be customizable. So, when you customize the pages available on a Web site, you can also customize the Help available for those pages by adding topics that contain information specific to your organization.

For example, you might want to customize Help when:

  • You change the behavior of a default Web site page and want to explain how users can interact with the modified page.

  • You add a new page to the site with a form that users must fill out and you want to provide assistance for particular fields in the form.

  • You want to explain your organization's Web site policies, processes, or structure to new users of the site.

You must have administrator rights to the server computer to add topics to the Help system.

Performing Basic Customization of Help

Basic customization of Help consists of adding new Help topics. You can use any level 4 HTML-compatible Web page editor, such as Microsoft , to create topics. When you add a topic, be sure to edit the table of contents topic to include the new file, and also create a hyperlink in the index topic to link to important terms in the new topic.

Help for is stored as HTML and image files in the file system of the server computer. These files are stored per server, so when you add a Help topic, it is available for all users of that server. The following table lists and describes the contents of the folders used to store Help content on a server.



\_vti_bin\help\ lcid \sts

All Help topic files. LCID stands for the locale ID (LCID). For example, U.S. English Help topics are stored in \_vti_bin\help\1033\.

\_vti_bin\help\ lcid \sts\html\

Localized HTML, cascading style sheets, and JScript files used in the Help topics.

\_vti_bin\help\ lcid \sts\images\

Localized images used in the Help topics.

About the Help Folder and Security

Because the Help topics take advantage of JScript coding to control some Help features, the \_vti_bin\help\ lcid \sts\ folder that contains the Help files grants Read and Read and Execute permissions to the Everyone group. Be sure to tightly control access to this folder, and any of the other installation folders. Because of the Read and Execute permission, a user with Write permissions to this folder could potentially add malicious scripting to files in the folder, which would then be allowed to run.

Customizing Special Help Files

The Help system for consists of Help topic files plus special files such as the table of contents, index, glossary, and other files. When you add custom content to the Help system, consider updating these special files as well to contain references to your new content.

Finding Specific Help Files

You can easily find topics in the Help system by browsing through the table of contents. After you identify the topic you want, you can turn on the Address bar for the Help window (in Microsoft Internet Explorer, on the View menu, click Toolbars , and then click Address Bar ), and then make a note of the file name. Alternatively, you can use Microsoft Windows search feature to search through the _vti_bin\ lcid \sts\html folder to find a particular sentence or phrase in Help.

Performing Advanced Customization of Help

You can also perform more advanced customization of the Help system. For example, each default page has one or more unique Help topics associated with it. These associations are maintained in an XML file called sts.xml. By editing this file, you can make your custom Help topics appear in the list of context-sensitive topics for a particular page in your Web site. For more information about advanced customization of Help, see the .

Preserving Customized Help When Installing Service Packs

service packs often contain updated Help files. If you customize a default Help topic, and then apply a service pack, your customized version of the Help file can be overwritten. Because service packs update default Help topics, it is not recommended that you customize the default Help topics, aside from the table of contents and index files. New topics that you add to the Help system are not overwritten by service packs, unless you use the same file names as existing or new topics.

If you are customizing the Help system extensively, be sure to back up your customized topics before applying a service pack, so that you can restore your customizations after the service pack has been installed.