Miscellaneous Debris

Avner Kashtan's Frustrations and Exultations

Visual Studio help-launcher rant

Yes, I know I am far from the first to bemoan the atrocious behavior of Visual Studio 2005 when you press the F1 button, even accidently. The first time you do it - or other times, if it deems the contents sufficiently changed for some reason - you are treated to an obnoxious and uncancellable dialog saying Help is updating itself and showing an uninformative neverending progress bar.

Worse yet, this window, despite being non-modal (due to running in a different process, dexplorer.exe) still blocks the calling thread on devenv.exe, preventing me from working for up to 5 minutes(!) at a time. No Abort button, no way to tell it to skip this pointless operation - launching help from VS is simply a giant waste of time.

What I now discovered is that I can't even use the task manager to kill the dexplore.exe process, because Visual Studio actively monitors it and RELAUNCHES it, apparently from scratch, if I try to do so.

So tell me, what program manager decided that this particular feature, launching the Help window in a completely different process, was so amazingly important that it was allowed to take over my Visual Studio completely for whole minute while I just sat there and twiddled my thumbs?

Infuriating.

UPDATE:

Tools -> Customize -> Keyboard -> Show Commands Containing -> Help.F1Help -> Remove.

There. F1 is disabled. Peace is resumed.

Comments

Gregor Suttie said:

There should be a press f1 and dont launch the help button Option within VS - it sucks exceptionally.

# September 3, 2007 11:17 AM

sameera said:

Best rant you'll here this month :)

Well said, we are totally with you.

# September 3, 2007 11:56 AM

Bob said:

Right on!! This has to be the worst MS technology ever.

# September 3, 2007 1:13 PM

ozczecho said:

MSDN has a wealth of information, lot of it is great. The tool to search has forever been pathetic. I am not sure who is responsible for the user experience in dexplore.exe but they have failed. For me I have MSDN installed on my PC but use it as a last resort. Microsoft please give us access to MSDN via a great search/catalogue tool please...

# September 3, 2007 7:57 PM

Avner Kashtan said:

: ozczecho:

: Microsoft please give us access to MSDN

: via a great search/catalogue tool please...

I find myself using the MSDN Online even when I have it installed locally. I use google to search it, so it's faster, and I have the Wiki enhancements to boot.

It's a sad state of affairs when using www.google.com to search msdn2.microsoft.com is faster than using a locally installed MSDN Library.

# September 5, 2007 5:54 AM

weblogs.asp.net said:

Visual studio help launcher rant.. Great idea :)

# May 20, 2011 7:38 AM