Getting a functional Books Online

As you probably know, the SQL Server Documentation (aka Books Online or BOL) as of SQL Server 2012 takes us to a web-site. Searching and navigating a web-site when you want rapid and precise help is a horrible experience.

  • Fortunately, there’s still a local BOL.
  • Unfortunately, the local BOL for SQL Server 2014 has been broken for a long time.
  • Fortunately, there is a way to fix it.

The trick is to not do it how you are supposed to do it. At least not all steps. Here’s how to get a functional local BOL:

  1. Download the help files from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/confirmation.aspx?id=42557
  2. Unpack the files somewhere
  3. Open the Manage Help Settings application
  4. “Choose online or local help”
  5. ┬áSelect “I want to use local help”
  6. OK
  7. Do not select “Install content from Online”. This is where you need to divert from how you (generally) are supposed to do it.
  8. “Install content from disk”
  9. Point to wherever you unpacked the files in step 2 above
  10. “Add” all books
  11. “Update”

So it is only a matter of downloading the files ourselves instead of letting the Help Library Manager (“Manage Help Settings”) tool do it.

If you wonder in what way the BOL is broken, then it is the Table of Content (TOC) which lacks a lot of subjects (for instance the T-SQL reference lacks bunch of things).

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