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Can I get some help here?

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  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    OK, so this has been about a week that this has gone on.  JohnathanH has made a valiant effort to solve the problem, but to no avail.

    Visual Studio has a help system that should allow me to display the MSDN content (or internal content) that I paid for.  At this point, however, it won't.  I get:

    Action canceled
    Internet Explorer was unable to link to the Web page you requested. The page might be temporarily unavailable.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Please try the following:

    Click the  Refresh button, or try again later.

    If you have visited this page previously and you want to view what has been stored on your computer, click File, and then click Work Offline.

    For information about offline browsing with Internet Explorer, click the Help menu, and then click Contents and Index.

     


    Internet Explorer 


    this tells me that somebody took the time and effort to display the "action canceled" message and hopefully they decided to log the problem.  I'm at the point where I'll have to completely reinstall the entire OS to solve the problem.  This is, as far as I'm concerned, unacceptable.  I've posted on the msdn forums, and I've had plenty of options posted, but each one has failed to solve the problem.

    And frankly, I've spent 10 hours in the last week trying to figure it out.  So:

    Given that this is a Marketing site and Marketing is the effort to prove that a piece of software (or a company) is worth spending money on, I'd really, really, really, appreciate it if someone who was directly involved in VS 2003 could take a look at the error message and give me a hint as to what the problem might be.

    Integrated (dynamic) help is a selling point in VS and from the day I started using it (in the VS5 days) it has broken and been unfixable.  Each version of VS has been able to provide help until some later sp or ...well who knows, but who cares. 

    Well, I'm not giving up this time.  VS5 and 6 both 'fixed' the problem with new installs that later broke.  I was able to last almost a year with VS.Net, but again, it's broke. 

    Given that the help files are essentially web files, why, why, why, why, why in the hell can't they simply be html files?  Why do they have to be some obnoxious redirection using ms-help as if it's http

    (i.e. ms-help:\..... is the format of the files that are attempting to load)

    If it isn't obvious, I'm pissed and unless you've missed my last 8 months on the site, I'm not going to be less pissed until the issue is solved.  You can curse me, hate me, and make rude comments about my mother's choice of shoes (army boots, btw), but I don't frikking care.  I just want to see the help files that I installed.

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    Since Explorer supports the ms-help:// "protocol" have you tried opening them via Explorer?

    Also, have you tried doing a packet sniff? If everything looks like normal HTTP 1.1 GET requests, then the problem is with the server and not you.

  • User profile image
    Sven Groot

    They are html files. They're simply packed inside a hxc file, and those are mapped via the ms-help:// protocol.

    What does it say in the registry under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT/ms-help?

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    Sven Groot wrote:
    They are html files. They're simply packed inside a hxc file, and those are mapped via the ms-help:// protocol.

    What does it say in the registry under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT/ms-help?


    This is what I found in the registry at the location you suggested. 

    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ms-help]
    @="Microsoft Help ParseDisplayName"

    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ms-help\CLSID]
    @="{314111f7-a502-11d2-bbca-00c04f8ec294}"


    Overall, there are a lot of references in the entire registry to 'ms-help', but I'm a little leery of manipulating it without some clue what I'm breaking Smiley

  • User profile image
    Sven Groot

    Well, that's correct. Could you check if that CLSID exists under the HKCR/CLSID key?

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    This is what I found under that location:

    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{314111f7-a502-11d2-bbca-00c04f8ec294}]
    @="HxParseDisplayName Class"

    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{314111f7-a502-11d2-bbca-00c04f8ec294}\Implemented Categories]
    @=""

    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{314111f7-a502-11d2-bbca-00c04f8ec294}\InprocServer32]
    @="C:\\Program Files\\Common Files\\Microsoft Shared\\Help\\hxds.dll"
    "ThreadingModel"="Apartment"

    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{314111f7-a502-11d2-bbca-00c04f8ec294}\TypeLib]
    @="{31411197-a502-11d2-bbca-00c04f8ec294}"

     

  • User profile image
    Sven Groot

    Doesn't look like that's the problem. Very strange indeed.

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    Well, thanks for trying, it was definitely a different direction than I've gone in the last week.

    I tried looking for updated files on the drive when this occurs, and nothing.  I guess I can try sysinternals regmon to see if anything obvious happens.

    It sure is frustrating.

  • User profile image
    Sven Groot

    Beer's post reminded me: is it just the internal help that's broken, or does it also not work if you launch the Document Explorer seperate from Visual Studio?

    (and Beer, VS200x can easily be configured to launch the external help viewer, and in fact in VS2005 that's the default again)

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    It fails from either the internal (in VS) or the external (Document Explorer).

    And, in fact, if you take the URI and try to display it in outlook, you get "this page cannot be displayed"

    Even more entertaining, is "help on help" produces the same error while Help|About attempts to display information in a couple of windows...that also fails.

    I've tried turning off all startup programs, but no luck.  I looked in my web logs on the machine, and the call is never making it to IIS, so this redirection from ms-help to a file has to be done from within IE?

  • User profile image
    Sven Groot

    There is absolutely no web calls involved. The way ms-help is handled is done entirely internally. IE allows you to easily specify a custom handler for any protocol. In the easiest form this can launch an external program (this is the way for instance the mailto: protocol is handled) and in a more complex form a COM object is used that will return a document for explorer to show. That's what is used here. There are no actual network requests, so W3bbo's suggestion for packet sniffing is not actually possible.

    Did you try a repair install?

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    Mine is located at c:\program files\common files\microsoft shared\help\hxds.dll. 

    I tried a complete uninstall/reinstall of VS2003 during this process, but I'll try a repair and see what happens.

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    ScanIAm wrote:
    Mine is located at c:\program files\common files\microsoft shared\help\hxds.dll. 

    I tried a complete uninstall/reinstall of VS2003 during this process, but I'll try a repair and see what happens.



    OK, I was saved from having to do the complete reinstall again.  I wanted to download the latest, so It took a while to get the isos, and in that time, I got a suggestion from someone on the msdn forums:

    Essentially, the way to solve the problem is this:

    Go into IE and change the location of your Temporary Internet Files.  The option is under 'Tools|Interent Options' on the General Tab, choose 'Settings...' and put the files in a different location.

    After a forced reboot, help is now working like a champ. 

    Now, I'm gonna try and delete the old directory and move the location back again to keep standard.

    Long drawn out process but it was worth it. 

    Thank you to all who helped!

  • User profile image
    Mike Dimmick

    This sounds like corrupted cache index again. A suggestion a while ago, I believe from Jeff Davis, was to drastically reduce the size of the cache - down to about 60MB or so. Since reducing my cache to this sort of size, I've had very few broken-image problems, or inability to save images in their original format, or missing stylesheets or scripts.

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    That may be the case.  I think mine is in the range of 350+Megs based on some default at install time.  I'll try to lower it down.

    Still, though, it's a little confusing why this would not affect standard web-surfing, but does affect help file access. 

    I seem to recall some mention (while searching for a fix) that vs2005 will allow you to go directly to the web and hit the msdn online library. 

    Does anyone know if this is true?

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