Using the Help view in Eclipse

 The Help View was a new feature in Eclipse v3.1, and toolkits that are built on this technology. You can access the Help view within Eclipse by pressing F1 (or shift+F1 on Linux), click on the question mark in a wizard, or selecting Dynamic Help from the Help menu. The Help view displays context sensitive help depending on what you have selected in the workbench. For example, if you have a particular editor in focus, then help for that editor is likely to be displayed, if you are using a wizard, then help for the page or the field that you have selected in the wizard will be displayed. The image below shows the default tab of the Help view: 

Related Links on the Help view

The top section of the Help view is information that is authored as a part of the GUI components, and usually contains a description of the component, plus links to relevant information in the information center. The Dynamic Help section usually contains links based on search performed on the name of the GUI component and the perspective that you are currently in. These links may therefore vary in their relevance. If you click on a new GUI component in the workbench, such as a different view, you will see the content of the Help view change. You can click on any of the links to open the link to more information. This link will open in the Help view. You might find it easier to view the information if you right-click on the link and select Open in Help Contents as shown below. The link is then opened in a new window in the information center.

 Open in Help Contents

You can also click on Add Bookmark to add the selected link to the Bookmarks tab in the Help view as shown below:

You can view the contents of the information center itself in the All Topics tab. Click on All Topics at the bottom of the Help view to view the contents of the information center. This displays all the ‘books’ in the information center, and you can expand these to view the table of contents for each ‘book’, and drill down to open individual topics. Again, you can open the individual topics in the Help view, or use Open in Help Contents to open them in the information center.


There is also an alphabetical list of topics in the information center in the Index tab. You can type in the first few characters of a word into the search box, and click Display to expand the relevant section of the index. This index includes all the contents of the information center, including the eclipse books, and the books for any other products that might be installed into the same workbench.  

 Index tab in the Help view

The final tab on the Help view is the Search tab. From this tab you can perform a search not only of the information in the local information center, but also web searches and if you are using a Rational based toolkit, a search of the Samples and Tutorial Gallery. Enter your search terms in the search expression field and click Go to perform the search. You can also use a search expression using * for any string, ? for any character, ** for a phrase, and the boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT. You can limit the search scope, by removing the tick from the check-boxes under Search scope:

The search results are displayed in the Help view, and you can click on the links to local topics or to web pages.


You can add additional locations to search, for example on-line information centers and search engines. I’ll provide some specific examples in my next blog post.


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