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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 (com.glide.embedded_help) is active by default for all new and upgraded instances. 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.

Users with the embedded_help_admin or admin role are able to add content when no help article is associated with the page. They can also copy and customize or edit custom content that appears for a page. The following illustration shows what the admin sees when there is no help article, and how to open an existing article. If it is base system help content, follow the steps in Add custom embedded help from a copy.

Figure 2. Embedded help administrator features in the help pane
Add content or edit existing content

If there is embedded help, it appears 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 or embedded videos to describe 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 and domain separation

If your organization uses domain separation, you can create custom embedded help for each domain. To associate help content with a domain, the administrator configures the Help Content form to include the Domain field. When custom content is created, the author selects the domain to which the content applies.

Considerations include the following list:
  • Content with no specified domain is in the global domain.
  • If domain-specific content does not exist for a user in a domain, the user sees the global help content.
  • Users in the global domain only see global help content. An administrator who wants to test domain-specific help must impersonate a user in that domain.

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. Help content in the CDN is refreshed every 30 days.

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, the following steps are performed.
  1. Checks the browser cache first, and displays the content if found in the cache. It then checks the Embedded Help Content [sys_embedded_help_content] table for the corresponding embedded help topic with the role and qualifier, if applicable.
    • If a topic is found, it checks the date in the Last sync field. If the date is 15 or more days old, it places a request in the Embedded Help Queue [sys_embedded_help_queue] table with the last sync date and the resource ID.
    • If a topic is not found, it places a request in the Embedded Help Queue [sys_embedded_help_queue] table with the current date and the resource ID.
  2. Within a minute of the page being viewed, the system processes the request and checks the CDN. In the first case, it checks whether the topic was updated since the Last sync date. In either case, after a minute, refresh the page to see the content.
    • If the topic was updated, it pulls the updated topic into the table 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.
  3. If the topic was not in the local database, it pulls the topic into the table if it exists on the CDN. If it does not exist, there is no action.

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