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Embedded help

Embedded help provides targeted help content to a user in a UI page, based on their role. Some embedded help content comes with the base instance. Your organization can add or replace embedded help content.

Note: Embedded help is only available in UI16. It is not compatible with UI15. For more information, see Activate UI16.

The Embedded Help plugin must be active for embedded help to be available in the instance. Embedded help content appears in the right sidebar when the user clicks the help icon. If embedded help exists for the current UI page, the help icon has an indicator (Embedded help indicator on help icon).

Figure 1. Embedded help for the Catalog Task page
Catalog task page with embedded help

If there is no embedded help, the sidebar displays links to the User Guide and the documentation site search. If the user clicks the Search Documentation link, a documentation search is performed for the page the user originated from. For example, if the user clicks Search Documentation from the Catalog Tasks list view, the search term is Catalog Task and matching topics are listed.

If there is embedded help, it displays based on the user's role. If the content has no associated role, all users see it. If the role is one other than admin, such as itil, then users with the specified role and above see the content. For example, content with the itil role appears for itil, itil_admin, and admin.

Working with embedded help content

You can add new embedded help content or replace content. Replacing content involves inactivating the existing topic and adding a topic.

Following are some of the reasons for your organization to add or replace embedded help content.
  • To provide help for custom applications.
  • To provide more specific instructions that follow your business process.
  • To provide embedded help content where none exists for a page.
  • To provide different content for different roles.

The UI page name identifies embedded help content, and you cannot edit the content in a base system topic. In base system topics, the read-only ServiceNow Help check box is selected. If you edit the content and try to save changes, you see an error message.

To replace a topic with custom content, copy the base system topic, which clears the ServiceNow Help check box. Modify the topic with your content and save it. If customized content exists, it is displayed when a user opens help in that UI page.

Embedded help process

The ServiceNow datacenter contains the Content Delivery Network (CDN) where embedded help content is stored. Topics in the local (instance) Embedded Help Content [sys_embedded_help_content] table are populated from the CDN.

When a user accesses a UI page, the embedded help process displays a custom topic if one exists for the user's role. If there is no custom topic, it performs the following steps.
  1. Checks the browser cache first, and then checks the Embedded Help Content [sys_embedded_help_content] table for the corresponding embedded help topic with the role.
  2. If a topic is found, it checks the date in the Last sync field. If the date is 15 or more days old, it checks the CDN to see if the topic was updated.
    • If the topic was updated, it pulls the updated topic into the table, displays the topic, and updates the Last sync date.
    • If the topic was not updated, it displays the local cached or database topic, and updates the Last sync date.

The administrator can modify the default 15-day synchronization duration in system properties