Context-Sensitive Help

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Note
Note: This article applies to Fuji. For more current information, see Context-Sensitive Help at http://docs.servicenow.com

The ServiceNow Wiki is no longer being updated. Please refer to http://docs.servicenow.com for the latest product documentation.


Navigation and UI Configuration
Related Topics

1 Overview

By default, the help link available in the product opens the main page of the ServiceNow Wiki, allowing you to enter search criteria for the information you want to find. The ServiceNow system provides a number of preconfigured help contexts connected to this link that display the exact information you need for the current list, form, or record. If you want, you can define your own help topics and configure them to appear when you click the help icon in a ServiceNow record.

Watch Introducing Context-Sensitive Help:

2 Accessing Context Sensitive Help

The location of the help icon depends on the ServiceNow version you are using. In versions at Eureka or later, click the gear icon in the banner frame to open the menu containing the help icon. The appearance of the menu and icons might be different, depending on the version you are using and the UI scheme you have configured for your instance.


Help icon in versions starting with Eureka


The help icon in versions prior to the Eureka release is located in the banner frame.


Help icon in versions prior to Eureka

3 Administering Context-Sensitive Help

Context-sensitive help can be used in its default configuration with no customizations. Users simply click the help icon to open the help page provided by ServiceNow. For any page that does not have context-sensitive help defined, a search for relevant content on the ServiceNow Wiki opens (starting with the Eureka release). In versions prior to Eureka, the main ServiceNow Wiki page opens.

Alternatively, administrators can create custom context-sensitive help to suit the needs of their organizations. Create a new help context that links the help icon to a page describing a list, form, or specific record. You may initially want to set a base URL to direct to a help system other than the ServiceNow Wiki.


Watch Setting Up Custom Help:

3.1 Creating New Help Contexts

You can create new help contexts to supplement or replace those provided by ServiceNow. For example, if your organization has heavily customized a form that has a default help context, you might create a new help context for that form. The customized help context would link to more relevant information, such as a company knowledge base article.

  1. Navigate to System UI > Help Contexts.
  2. Click New.
  3. Complete the Help Context form and click Submit.
Field Description
Type Select Form, List, or Record.

If you select Record, the Table name field is replaced by the Document field.
Note: See Help Context Types for important information about using the Type field.

Table name Select the table for which the help context is being defined.

If the Type is Record, this field is replaced by the Document field.


Note
Note: The list shows only tables and database views that are in the same scope as the help context (starting with the Fuji release).
Document Click the reference lookup icon (Icon-referencelookup.png) to open the document selection dialog box (pictured). Select the table and document (record) for this help context.

Help_Context_Document_Select.png

This field is only visible if you have selected Record as the Type.

Language Select the language of the help page to which you are linking. The choices available depend on the internationalization plugins active on your instance.

This field allows you to create multiple help contexts for the same form, list, or record, each directing to a help page in a different language. For example, you might have two help contexts for Form X: one for English and the other for Spanish. If a user whose language is set to Spanish clicks the help icon while viewing Form X, the help page defined in the Spanish help context opens.

Active Select this check box to have the system use the help context. This check box is selected by default for new help contexts.
ServiceNow Wiki Select this check box to link to a page on the ServiceNow Wiki.

Clear this check box to link to a page outside the ServiceNow Wiki. This check box is cleared by default for new help contexts.

URL or page name Identify the page to display when a user clicks the help icon while viewing the form, list, or record.

If ServiceNow Wiki is selected, only enter a ServiceNow Wiki page name (such as Business Rules or Business_Rules). The page name is case-sensitive. The base URL in the help.base.servicenow property automatically precedes the value in this field to provide a complete URL to the identified ServiceNow Wiki page. Do not enter an absolute URL.

If ServiceNow Wiki is cleared, enter the URL of the help page. If you have set a base URL, you can enter the remainder of the page address.

The illustrated help context indicates that, in the list view of the Business Rule [sys_script] table, the help icon links to http://wiki.servicenow.com/index.php?title=Business_Rules.

ContextHelpLink.png

Note
Note: If you configure the form, you see the available fields Plugin ID and System Property Base URL. Do not use these fields. They are for internal use only.


3.2 Configuring Context-Sensitive Help Properties

To configure context-sensitive help properties, navigate to sys_properties.list and filter by Name. You can edit a property value from the list or by opening the property record. The following properties affect context-sensitive help:

Property Name Description Default Value
glide.help.default.page The default URL the help icon directs to when no help context is specified. http://wiki.servicenow.com/
help.base.default The base URL for help contexts in which the ServiceNow Wiki field has the value false and an absolute URL is not specified. For details, see Setting Base URLs. http://wiki.servicenow.com/index.php?title=
help.base.servicenow The base URL for help contexts in which the ServiceNow Wiki field has the value true. For details, see Creating Help Contexts. http://wiki.servicenow.com/index.php?title=

3.2.1 Setting Base URLs

With context-sensitive help, you can set a base URL for an external help system. If you want to create numerous help contexts that direct to a single server other than the ServiceNow Wiki, enter the base URL in the help.base.default property.


Help base default.png


On the Help Context form, when the ServiceNow Wiki check box is cleared and you enter a value in the URL or page name field that does not contain the string ://, that value is appended to the base URL defined by help.base.default.

Note
Note: When the ServiceNow Wiki check box is cleared and the URL or page name field contains an absolute URL (distinguished by the string :// in the value), the help.base.default value is ignored. This allows you to create help contexts that link to a variety of different servers.


4 Help Context Types

You can create a help context with the type Form, List, or Record and link it to a particular table in ServiceNow. When a user clicks the help icon, the system analyzes the relevant help contexts to determine which help page to display.

  • Record-level help applies to only one specific record, not the list or form for that table.
For example, if a Record type help context exists for the Validate Number record in the Business Rule table, the help icon only directs to the page specified when a user views that record.
  • List-level help applies to the list for a table. If no form-level help is defined, list-level help also applies to the form for the same table.
For example, if a List type but not a Form type help context exists for the Business Rule table, the help icon directs to the page specified by the List type help context when a user views any list or record (if record-level help is not defined for it) in the Business Rule table.
  • Form-level help applies to the form for a table. If no list-level help is defined, the form-level help also applies to the list for the same table.
For example, if a Form type but not a List type help context exists for the Business Rule table, the help icon directs to the page specified by the Form type help context when you view any record (if record-level help is not defined for it) or list in the Business Rule table.
  • If both list- and form-level help are defined for a table, the appropriate help is displayed for the list and the form.
For example, if a List type and a Form type help context exist for the Business Rule table, the help icon directs to the page specified by the List type help context when a user views the Business Rules list. The help icon directs to the page specified by the Form type help context when a user views any record (if record-level help is not defined for it) in the Business Rule table.

5 Help Context Prioritization

Sometimes multiple help contexts may apply to what a user views. When there are several matching help context records, the following rules determine which help context is used, in descending order of priority.

  1. A customer-created help context is used instead of a help context provided by ServiceNow.
  2. A help context that matches the user's language setting is used instead of a help context in the default language of the instance. See the Language field on the Help Context form.
  3. A help context for a closer table in an extended table hierarchy is used instead of a help context for a further table.
    Consider the case of the Linux Server [cmdb_ci_linux_server] table, which has the following parentage:
    cmdbi_ci > cmdb_ci_hardware > cmdb_ci_computer > cmdb_ci_server > cmdb_ci_linux_server
    If help contexts exist for both the cmdb_ci_server table and the cmdb_ci table, the help icon directs to the page specified by the cmdb_ci_server help context when you view a record in the cmdb_ci_linux_server table.

6 Enhancements

6.1 Eureka

  • By default, the help icon opens a search for relevant content on the ServiceNow wiki when no help context is specified.
  • Predefined help contexts are added for several more ServiceNow lists, forms, and records, including:
    • Assessments
    • BSM Map
    • Compliance
    • Data Certification
    • IT Governance Risk and Compliance
    • Orchestration (including VMware, Puppet, and Chef activities)
    • Update sets
    • Vendor Performance
    • Work Management

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