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Where to Get Help

If you don't find the answer to your question on this web site, there are other resources available to help you.  Some of the places you can find additional help are the SDK samples, the SDK docs, MSDN, newsgroups and forums.

Please read the all the information below before posting your question online.

 

Has your question already been answered

Before you post a question, search on the available archived information to see if it has already been answered.  The most likely places to find information are:

  • If it is about managed (C#, VB.NET) dshow, ask in the DirectShow.NET forum here.

  • Google Groups or use its Advanced Search and search in the newsgroups:  microsoft.public.win32.programmer.directx.*

  • If your question is Windows Media related, also try Google Groups Advanced Search with:  microsoft.public.windowsmedia.*

  • The MSDN Forum for DirectShow.

  • A regular search using Google or another search engine (hint: you can restrict a search to a particular site by prefixing "site:" to your search.  For example, imediaseeking wmp site:microsoft.com).

 

How to ask a question that will get the answer you need

Realize that nobody knows anything about the background to your problem or about your environment except what you write in your post.

Use a descriptive subject line in your post.  Example:  Preview pin will not connect to VMR7 in capture graph.  Words like "urgent," "newbie" and "please help ASAP" in the subject line or body are a distraction and do not help anyone help you.

Provide information in your question about your environment.  Example:  I am using the DirectX 9.0 Summer 2004 SDK with VC7.1 and the February 2003 Platform SDK.

List any errors that you are receiving from the debug runtimes or failed HRESULTs.  Post the result in hexadecimal and its equivalent text definition from the DirectX Error Lookup tool, found in the DirectX SDK, or the system header files (look in <winerror.h>, <vfwmsgs.h>, <dxerr*.h>, etc.)

If applicable, provide a short code snippet that illustrates your problem.  Remove error checking if it will make the code clearer and indicate where you are getting any failures.

List the things that you have attempted to fix your problem.  It is a waste of everyone's time to have someone take time to respond to a post only to get a follow up that the suggestions had already been attempted.

If you receive an answer or post that helps you, acknowledge the response you get.  It will help others who subsequently search the archive identify a solution to a similar problem.

If you need further clarification, trim and quote the part of the response you need explained and ask for additional information.

Never be rude or impatient.  Don't bump threads within a day of posting and if you do bump a thread after a day, state what you have tried in the meantime.  Virtually all of the responses in the dshow groups are from volunteers.  If you are asked for clarification or requested to post somewhere else, there is probably a good reason.  If you don't understand, ask politely for clarification.  Review Microsoft's Rules of Conduct for its community newsgroups and forums.   Keep your writing professional, technical and courteous at all times.

 A person who responds to your post may be on a different time zone and continent so it make take time before you get a response.

 

MSDN Forum specific information

If it is about managed dshow (C#, VB.NET), support is not provided in the MSDN forums because Microsoft does not support dshow with .NET.  Instead, ask in the DirectShow.NET forum here.

The MSDN Forum for DirectShow is a good place to post questions if you can't find an answer using the help above.

Here are some specific guidelines for using the forums effectively:

  • When composing a post, use the code snippet formatting tool on the toolbar when including a code snippet or other formatted text like a project file.  The button looks like HTML angle brackets.  Choose C++ or C# as the language in the drop down box.

  • Use the Vote As Helpful link on any posts in the thread that you find useful when you read them.  This is not limited to posts on threads that you start.  The Helpful votes increase the likelihood of the thread appearing in the search results and also acknowledge the person who helped.

  • Use the Mark As Answer button on the heading of the post(s) in the thread that answered your question(s).

  • Once a thread is marked as answered, if you have a question that relates to it, start a new thread.  This also applies if you find an question that has been answered using the Search feature.  If the context will be useful for your new post, copy the link to the original question to the clipboard.  Then link to it using the Hyperlink button on the tool bar when composing the question in your new thread  (Ctrl+K is a shortcut to the hyperlink feature just like in Expression Web and Frontpage).

 

Newsgroup specific information

TMH first used newsgroups in the mid-1980s.  Here are a few guidelines based on his experience that will help you get your question answered promptly:

  • If you have an MSDN subscription Professional level or higher, you can get a Microsoft Support response within two business days by following the guidelines and using one of the managed newsgroups.  It is highly recommended that you use your MSDN email alias rather than a real email address unless you like spam.  The list of available newsgroups for this service is here.

  • If you plan on using newsgroups regularly, get a good newsreader.  Two that are recommended are 40tude Dialog and Forte Agent.  Both have free versions.  Outlook Express and Windows Mail have serious bugs and are not recommended.

  • Always trim the previous post to the relevant parts and respond inline.  This makes conversations easier to read and more logical.  A good newsreader will help you with this.  Some people use dialup connections or pay for their Internet connection by the amount of data transferred.  Fully quoting a large post with a small response is particularly annoying for them.

  • Do not modify the subject line when you respond or follow up to a post.  Some newsreaders thread by subject line.

  • Multi-posting means posting the same question separately to two or more newsgroups or listservs.  Never multi-post a question.  It results in duplication of effort and will alienate those who regularly help.  If you find you have posted to the wrong group, write a response in the wrong group indicating that fact and indicate to which group you have move the post.

  • Cross-posting means including two or more newsgroups in the Newsgroups: line of your post.   Cross-posting to even two groups is very rarely required and should be used only when you absolutely understand what you are doing.  Always set the Followup-to: header to one of the newsgroups when cross-posting.

  • More information is available on TMH's friend Thore's site here:  How to use newsgroups effectively
     

 

Where to ask

IMPORTANT NOTE:   Microsoft is closing their newsgroups.  Although some external NNTP servers continue to carry Microsoft newsgroups, the ones marked RETIRED below are no longer supported on Microsoft's servers.

There are a number of forums newsgroups in the DirectX area and it is difficult to know which is most appropriate for a dshow question without some guidance.  There is no clear information available on microsoft.com for this.  The information below will help you.

One place you can ask dshow questions is the MSDN forum for DirectShow.  Please do not post your question to both the forum and a public newsgroup (see multi-posting).

If your question is about using dshow in .NET, the best place to ask is on the DirectShow.NET forum on SourceForge.

There are two classes of groups:

  • Programmer groups [microsoft.public.win32.programmer.directx.*]  as the name suggests these groups are for programming questions

  • End-user groups [microsoft.public.directx.*] relatively inactive, these are for end-user questions on DirectX issues like how to install the DX runtime, the dshow related group microsoft.public.directx.video has very little traffic.

Here are the programmer groups.  Please post only in the first group listed that covers your question.

The .sdk, .misc, .input, .graphics and other DX groups are not dshow groups.

There are separate groups for Windows Media specific programming questions:

Finally, there is an email alias at Microsoft that is monitored for dshow issues.  These are not for requesting support nor for asking questions but you can use it to submit bug reports and suggestions:  askdshow@microsoft.com.  While it is monitored a response is not guaranteed.  Use the guidelines above for writing an effective email.

 

Useful abbreviations

The following are some common abbreviations used in newsgroups and forums:

  • AFAICT: as far as I can tell
  • AFAIK: as far as I know
  • dshow:  DirectShow
  • DX: DirectX
  • IANAA: I am not an attorney
  • IIRC:  if I recall correctly
  • ISTR: I seem to recall
  • MS or MSFT:  Microsoft
  • OP: original post or original poster

 

Copyright 2010 by The March Hare.  All Rights Reserved.  Last modified: August 07, 2010