Finding what you need in the Microsoft� Visual Studio� documentation, which has over 200,000 topics, can be a daunting task. The Doc Detective is here to help, utilizing his investigative skills to probe the depths of the documentation.

Can't find what you're looking for? Just ask - if it's in there, I'll find it for you; if it isn't, I'll let you know that as well (and tell you where else you might go to find it).

Have a question for the Doc? Send your questions for future columns to me at

Dear Doc Detective,

When I do a quick find if no code windows are open and “Search up” is checked off, any search fails to find my search criteria. Unchecking “Search up” fixes the problem.

Is this normal behavior? When nothing is open, where is “Search up” starting from? Does it simply just not search and return immediately?

I just find it to be odd behavior. I guess the “Search up” checkbox persists, because I don't remember checking it off, but I guess I did at some point.

– Perplexed in Peoria

Dear Doc Detective,

I've found an odd behavior with the Find and Replace dialog in Visual Studio.

If I want to find a word (i.e., all the calls of a method or of a variable), it doesn't find them if they are in collapsed Regions. If I want to complete the search, I must expand all the Regions.

Is this the expected behavior, or am I just missing something?

  • Missing in Mississauga

Dear Perplexed and Missing,

It's not often that I get to answer two questions with one answer - and the answer to both is “maybe.” Depending on which version of Visual Studio you are using, both behaviors may be normal, but not necessarily expected.

The “Search up” behavior was a bug (or maybe an undocumented feature) in Visual Studio 2008 and earlier. The ability to search collapsed regions was controlled by a “Search hidden text” option.

In both cases, the behavior in Visual Studio 2010 has changed. The “Search up” bug has finally been fixed, so text is found no matter which direction you are searching. The “Search hidden text” option no longer exists; hidden text is always searched.

These behaviors and more tips on searching are described in the topic, “Quick Find, Find and Replace Window”. Unfortunately the topic still mentions the now missing “Search hidden text” option, but you already knew that.

  • the Doc

Dear Doc Detective,

My managed application relies on native C++ .dlls that the application accesses via Pinvoke. The application targets multiple platforms and requires a different .dll version for each platform.

It would be awesome if I could build a ClickOnce installation package that would contain all of the native .dlls and during installation, select the right one for the platform where the application is installed.

Is this possible? Could you point me to a document on best practices for using ClickOnce to deploy an architecture-dependent application?

  • Searching in Seabeck

Dear Searching,

It may be possible, assuming that the application's entry point is a managed executable and is not itself an architecture-specific binary. If that assumption is correct then you can, in fact, package your application once to work on all architectures using ClickOnce deployment.

To do so, you'll need to take each architecture-dependent .dll and wrap it in a separate optional component, and then use some platform detection logic in your application's entry point binary to determine which platform it's running on. You can then use the ClickOnce on-demand APIs to pull down only those components that are required for the architecture you're running on.

The topic “Walkthrough: Downloading Assemblies on Demand with the ClickOnce Deployment API” provides an example of using the on-demand APIs in ClickOnce. Is that awesome enough?

  • Doctor D

Dear Doc Detective,

I've been tasked with creating help for an application that my team is building in Visual Studio. I'm new to Visual Studio, and I was surprised to find that Visual Studio doesn't appear to include any facility for creating Help files.

Is there something that I'm not finding, or does Visual Studio really lack any Help tools? I need help!

  • Helpless in Helena

Dear Helpless,

I can help. While Visual Studio doesn't include tools for Help authoring, there are a number of Help authoring solutions available as Visual Studio extensions. In fact, some are likely advertised in the pages of this magazine.

A new feature of Visual Studio 2010 is the Extension Manager, which allows you to add and remove extensions within the IDE. It connects directly to the Visual Studio Gallery on the MSDN Web site, where you can find extensions for Help and just about anything else you can think of.

The aptly named topic “Managing Visual Studio Extensions” covers the Extension Manager and all you need to know about extensions. Does that help?

  • Doc D

Doc's Doc Tip of the Day

You may have noticed by now that the new Help viewer in Visual Studio 2010 is lacking an index. If you're like me, trying to find a topic in the Table of Contents or in Search can be frustrating. When you know the keyword or concept that you are looking for, an index is a much more efficient way to locate the right topic.

If you miss the index, I have good news. A new Help Viewer Keyword Index extension is available for download from the Visual Studio Gallery - and it's free. You can install it via the Extension Manager, and the Index tab shows up in the viewer just like in the old Help system.

Found a topic in Help that doesn't help? Tell the Visual Studio documentation team about it by clicking on the “Send feedback” link in local Help topics, or the “Click to rate and give feedback” link in online Help.