Whenever possible, share the SuiteAnswers link to a Help Center article as SuiteAnswers links are account-independent and more reliable. By replacing the
host part of the URL with
netsuite.custhelp.com, you can easily convert a Help Center article’s link to the corresponding SuiteAnswers resource:
Help Center vs. SuiteAnswers
The NetSuite Help Center and SuiteAnswers are two core documentation resources offered by NetSuite and serve different purposes [I]Taylor Sikes (April 27, 2020). Tips for Help Center and SuiteAnswers. [Video]. Available at https://videohub.oracle.com/media/Tips+for+Help+Center+and+SuiteAnswers/1_fvclicbh [Accessed July 7, 2020]. However, I see folks often mix up these resources. “So, what’s the difference (and who cares)?”, you may ask? Read on… unless you’re really sure you know the difference, in which case you can skip to the next section.
A full comparison of the NetSuite Help Center and SuiteAnswers goes beyond the scope of this article but here’s the primary difference in one sentence: The Help Center is the NetSuite Product Documentation resource while SuiteAnswers is a Knowledge Base. [II]Shoshana R. Stopek (May 9, 2018). Product Documentation vs. Knowledge Base. Available at https://spaces.ais.ucla.edu/display/CMS/Product+Documentation+vs.+Knowledge+Base [Accessed July 7, 2020]
Help Center: Product Documentation
As a Product Documentation resource, the Help Center offers structured content on NetSuite features and functionality. It also includes neatly formatted PDF User Guides that are a subset of the Help Center articles and accessible without a NetSuite account.
Help Center article links are account-specific. For instance, the URL of the front page of the Help Center has the format:
https://<account_id>.app.netsuite.com/app/help/helpcenter.nl?topic=DOC_FRONTPAGE. When accessed from Production, Sandbox, or other environments, the
<account_id> part of the URL will be different, although the page’s content is exactly the same in all those accounts. This difference can make sharing information, which is essential for user-empowerment, somewhat tricky.
Often, I’ll do some research in Sandbox and find relevant Help Center articles I want to share with my end users. However, if I share the link with them, they’d come back 99% of the time saying it’s broken. This is because they work primarily in Production and for unclear reasons, NetSuite has difficulty opening Help Center links from a different account (in my case Sandbox). I’ll share a tip on how to easily overcome this limitation.
Help Center article links are account-specific whereas SuiteAnswers article links are not. This difference makes Help Center article links less reliable than their SuiteAnswers counterparts.
SuiteAnswers: Knowledge Base
As a Knowledge Base, SuiteAnswers focuses more on troubleshooting and how-to articles. From SuiteAnswers, you are also able to contact NetSuite Support by phone and/or by creating support cases, depending on your support tier.Although SuiteAnswers includes all Help Center topics, the NetSuite Help Center remains an invaluable resource. Learning to share article links the right way is key. Click To Tweet
Importantly, SuiteAnswers also includes all the Help Center topics. So you might be tempted to think that you don’t need the Help Center at all. But you’re wrong for at least two reasons:
- The search functionality in SuiteAnswers is hor-ri-ble! If there’s a single typo in your search term, you may get no results. For instance, try searching for “suitscript” in both SuiteAnswers and the Help Center. You’ll get no results from SuiteAnswers which is not “smart” enough to infer that you probably meant “suitescript”. The Help Center, on the other hand, will make this inference and serve you relevant results as you would expect from any decent search engine. Because of this limitation, I generally lean towards the Help Center especially when I’m after product-related information or not sure of the exact terms to search for.
- The Help Center neatly integrates with the NetSuite application. The Help Button () at the top-right of every page in NetSuite is context-aware. That means when you click it, NetSuite will try to open a Help Center article relevant to the page’s content. This is quite helpful! Also, you can use the prefix “help: ” in the Global Search bar to indirectly search the Help Center.
For these reasons, I find myself using the Help Center more often that SuiteAnswers. The problem though is that when I find something useful and want to share it, I need to remind myself that help center links might not work well in other environments. The solution (at least the one I prefer)? Convert the Help Center link to a SuiteAnswers URL and share the SuiteAnswers link instead.
SuiteAnswers URLs are not account-specific. That makes them good candidates for sharing. Also, each SuiteAnswers article (including ones from the Help Center) has an “Answer Id”. This is a number that uniquely identifies the article. In the NetSuite Support world, these Ids are extremely popular. You’ll likely receive an Answer Id instead of a URL from NetSuite Support Reps. The basic idea is simple, yet powerful: URLs might change but Answer Ids remain the same. Therefore, given an Answer Id, you can enter it in the search bar in SuiteAnswers to find the article, or simply replace the last piece of the standard SuiteAnswers URL format:
How to Convert a Help Center Page into the Corresponding SuiteAnswers Resource
Well, the answer is quite simple as you saw in the animation at the start of this article (reproduced below for your convenience): Simply replace the
host part of the URL with
netsuite.custhelp.com, press Enter and NetSuite will do the rest for you. It’s that easy!
A few things to note:
- Do not remove the
https://part of the URL. (In URL lingo, this is called the scheme section of the URL.[III]IBM Knowledge Center (June 9, 2020). The Components of a URL. Available at https://www.ibm.com/support/knowledgecenter/SSGMCP_5.3.0/com.ibm.cics.ts.internet.doc/topics/dfhtl_uricomp.html [Accessed … Continue reading Doing so may result in a “404 – Page not found” error.
- As a best practice, notice that I first click on the current page’s link in the Help Center’s Table Of Contents section before performing the URL conversion. It turns out that, as is not uncommon with NetSuite, case-sensitivity plays a role here. In my example below, using the Help Center link ending in “_n2824008.html” (notice the lower case “n”) results in a 500 error whereas the uppercase equivalent ending in “_N2824008.html” works just fine.
- An extra advantage of viewing Help Center articles in SuiteAnswers is that you can see the creation and last updated dates of the article. This potentially useful information is not readily available in the Help Center.
- Finally, if you insist on sharing the Help Center link, then instead of
netsuite.custhelp.com, you can use
system.netsuite.com. NetSuite will automatically redirect the requester to the right account-specific URL. Again, let me remind you that since the 2016.2 release, NetSuite has been actively steering us away from data center-based URLs in favor of account-specific ones “to take full advantage of NetSuite’s cloud architecture”.[IV]NetSuite (April 29, 2020). 2020.1 Release Notes: Automated Conversion of Data Center-Specific Domains In NetSuite. Available at … Continue reading So this redirection might be retired in the near future.
Speaking of URL sensitivity, if you’re a developer, the next time you’re doing some integration work (token-based authentication or any other API calls) and things are just not working for no obvious reason, be sure to confirm that your account Id is all uppercase. Many developers, myself included, have wasted precious hours only to realize that NetSuite treats 123456_sb1 and 123456_SB1 differently, just as it treats our help center URLs differently. Yeah… I know… but it’s NetSuite… so just get over it and take my advice to heart.
Now that you understand some key differences between the NetSuite Help Center and SuiteAnswers and know how to make sure the links you share are reliable, all that’s left is to actively share information with your NetSuite users. I cannot overstate the value of doing that!
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.English Proverb
If, as a NetSuite Specialist, you’re being bogged with lots of “How-do-I?” questions, consider organizing a quick session with your team to teach them how to use the documentation resources at their disposal to find answers for themselves. Also, instead of slacking (pun intended) them the answer, send them the SuiteAnswers link that contains the answer. This will serve as an implicit reminder that these resources are at their disposal.
Empowering your users will only increase (not decrease) your value to them!
If you found this tip insightful or have any tips of your own to share, let me know! You can reach me via one of the social media channels at the top of the page or by emailing stories[at]netsuite-insights.com.
|↑I||Taylor Sikes (April 27, 2020). Tips for Help Center and SuiteAnswers. [Video]. Available at https://videohub.oracle.com/media/Tips+for+Help+Center+and+SuiteAnswers/1_fvclicbh [Accessed July 7, 2020]|
|↑II||Shoshana R. Stopek (May 9, 2018). Product Documentation vs. Knowledge Base. Available at https://spaces.ais.ucla.edu/display/CMS/Product+Documentation+vs.+Knowledge+Base [Accessed July 7, 2020]|
|↑III||IBM Knowledge Center (June 9, 2020). The Components of a URL. Available at https://www.ibm.com/support/knowledgecenter/SSGMCP_5.3.0/com.ibm.cics.ts.internet.doc/topics/dfhtl_uricomp.html [Accessed July 7, 2020]|
|↑IV||NetSuite (April 29, 2020). 2020.1 Release Notes: Automated Conversion of Data Center-Specific Domains In NetSuite. Available at https://netsuite.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/31695#subsect_157541029790 [Accessed July 7, 2020]|