VisualSP Help System is a SharePoint Help System with the main goal of enabling sustainable SharePoint adoption in the organization. It provides SharePoint end users the in-context, on-demand help and training they need to be successful working within SharePoint.
The Help and Training items are made available to information workers through the context sensitive Help tab that appears on the browser interface.
It is very important to follow all steps exactly as they appear below. SharePoint 2019 has some architectural differences that create some specific requirements for deploying VisualSP. After installation, please refer to the customization articles to learn how to customize the system to your needs.
Familiarize Yourself with the VisualSP Help System Architecture
During the installation process, you will need to make a number of decisions about how the VisualSP System will be set up. Although any settings can be easily changed at a later time, the more you understand about the architecture of the VisualSP Help System at the beginning, the less time you will have to spend trying to figure out which things need to be changed and how to change them.
It will take you about 5-minutes to read Appendix A: Overview of VisualSP Help System Architecture at the end of this manual. It is written from a non-technical perspective and loaded with diagrams to make it very easy to quickly comprehend.
Back up Your SharePoint Environment
Before installing VisualSP, it is important that you perform a full backup of your complete SharePoint environment just as you would before you install any other 3rd party software.
Note: If you are installing a trial edition of VisualSP, we recommend that you install it to a development or testing / staging environment. Do not install a trial edition in a production environment.
Install the VisualSP Help System
Note: Support for Modern sites and pages in SharePoint 2019 depends on two requirements:
- The wizard must be run from a SharePoint web-front-end server using a farm administrator account. This is to allow the wizard to install a wsp package to the farm.
- A SharePoint Framework application package must be deployed into your farm’s App Catalog. The wizard contains a link where you can manually download and deploy this element appropriately for your environment.
Common deployment methods that we support for other on-prem and on-line SharePoint versions are not supported for SharePoint 2019. It is very important to follow all steps exactly as they appear below.
- Log into one of your SharePoint Web Front-End servers as a SharePoint Farm Administrator.
(It is not necessary to install VisualSP on each SharePoint server individually. The installation will be automatically pushed to all other web front-end servers in the farm.)
- Download the SharePoint Site Collection installation wizard.
- Double click on the VisualSPOnlineHelpApp.SiteCollectionConfigWizard.application file to begin the installation.
- On the Welcome screen, click Next to continue.
- On the Specify SharePoint Environment screen, check SharePoint On-Premises.
Note the final paragraph’s link and instructions to manually deploy the visualsp-online.sppkg application to your farm’s Application Catalog. You must complete this manual deployment – or the VisualSP solution will not display on modern pages.Click Next to continue.
- On the Specify Web Applications screen, select the check boxes for all Web Applications which might play any role in the VisualSP Help System. In most organizations, you will select all web applications unless there are some that you are certain will never need to consume VisualSP Help Items.
Below the list of web applications, you will find two additional options related to site collections.
- The first check box activates the VisualSP feature in ALL EXISTING site collections on the web applications you selected above. We recommend that you check this box unless A) Most of the sites collections in the selected web applications should not display VisualSP Help Items; or B) You are upgrading or re-installing and wish to honor existing settings in those site collections.
- The second check box automatically activates the VisualSP feature in ALL NEW site collections that will be created in the future across ALL Web Applications (regardless of whether they were checked above or not). We recommend that this be checked, unless you didn’t select all Web Applications on the previous screen.
- On the Subscription screen, enter the Subscription ID that was emailed to you during your subscription setup. You can also choose to create a trial subscription by filling out the required fields. Click Next.
- On the Validating Information screen, if all system checks pass, click Next to continue. If it encounters issues, correct them and run the installer again. Click Next when all items pass the system check.
- When the installation is successful, you will see a Configuration Complete message. Click Close, then Close again.
- If there are any error messages, you can click on the “Open the installation log file” at the bottom of the wizard to see additional information that may be helpful in troubleshooting the installation.
Test the Solution
Once the VisualSP Help System is installed, the Help tab should be available across all site collections. Try out the solution in various site collections within the farm to make sure all videos, documents and images appear as expected.
Users can’t see the VisualSP Help Tab
Add the Domain Users group as Readers to the VisualSP Farm Hub site to provide read access to VisualSP Help content to everyone.
Help tab appears in one web application but not the others
- At the time of installation, you can select which web applications to deploy the Help system to. The other web apps might not have been chosen when installing the product.
You can verify this by navigating to Central Administration → System Settings → Manage Farm Solutions. Then click on the solution sharepointvideos.visualsp.wsp. On the next screen, you can see the web applications that the solution is deployed to.
- Another possibility for this issue could be that the hub site has been set per web application instead of for the whole farm. This can be checked by going to Manage Help Provider Sites setting in the General Application Settings page (in Central Administration).
- Make sure the sppkg file was deployed to the app catalog of each web application.
Clicking on VisualSP Help Settings produces the error “Sorry something went wrong”
The resources files (SharePointVideos.VisualSP.en-US.resx, SharePointVideos.VisualSP.es-ES.resx, etc.) might not have gotten deployed to this web application at time of installation. This usually happens if the web application was not selected during installation as these files get deployed when you deploy the solution to a web application.
Please re-run the install and be sure to select the web application in question so the resource files get deployed there.
Un-install VisualSP Help System
If you need to un-install VisualSP for any reason, run the VisualSP installer again.
- On the Welcome screen, click next.
- On the Specify SharePoint Environment screen, click Next to continue.
- On the Specify Web Applications screen, click Next.
- On the Subscription screen, click Next.
- On the Validating Information screen, select the Remove radio button. To remove VisualSP from across your farm, select the Deactivate VisualSP Online Features checkbox. This is recommended, as leaving the Features activated with the VisualSP Solution Package uninstalled will result in orphaned Feature activations and could cause upgrade issues with SharePoint. If you intend to re-install VisualSP you can safely leave the Features activated. Click Next .
- The wizard will begin the un-install process.
- When the un-install process is completed, you will see a Finished screen with a Configuration Complete message.
Appendix A: Overview of VisualSP Help System Architecture
To effectively manage help content in the VisualSP Help System, you need to understand where help items and help content are stored, as well as how help items are provided to and consumed by a particular site collection. Let’s take a look at the architecture of the VisualSP Help System and understand some important terms.
Note: VisualSP On-Prem is a full trust solution.
Help Content is the instructional content and resources that users need. Individual media items are often referred to as Help Assets. The VisualSP Help System supports a variety of different media types such as: videos, images, documents, web pages, and Adobe Flash. You can even use custom EMBED or OBJECT tags to display content from sites like YouTube, Vimeo, and many other sites. Help content can live in any location that your users can access whether locally on your intranet or anywhere on the Internet. If your employees can access it, it can be used as help content.
The VisualSP Help System comes with many professional videos, images, and documents to help your end users make better use of SharePoint.
A Help Item is a definition of how to display a particular Help Asset within the VisualSP Help System. It links to the Help Content but doesn’t contain the Help Content. A Help Item also defines how the content will appear to the user, such as which viewer to use and if it will be displayed in the VisualSP dialog box or opened in a new window. It defines all the aspects of how the links to the content are displayed in the VisualSP Help system.
Site Collections, Web Applications, and the SharePoint Farm
All SharePoint sites have to be in a SharePoint Site Collection. A SharePoint Site Collection is a group of SharePoint sites that share a common set of resources between them. It typically consists of many sites that are arranged in a hierarchical manner. However, it could also be a unique and separate, single SharePoint site. The Site Collection is the lowest level at which the VisualSP Help System can be managed.
If you are unfamiliar with what a SharePoint Web Application is, just think of it as a base
URL in SharePoint, that is, everything in the URL before the first forward slash (/). For example, you may have one web application with URLs that begin with http://intranet and another web application with URLs that begin with http://projectsweb. These are two different web applications and each may contain numerous site collections.
A SharePoint Farm may be one or more SharePoint Servers that work together to power and manage any number of SharePoint Web Applications. Most organizations have only one production SharePoint Farm, but some organizations have multiple SharePoint Farms, depending on their needs.
To get more information on the VisualSP Help System, please don’t hesitate to contact us: