6 Replies Latest reply on Dec 5, 2007 4:31 AM by MergeThis

    HTML Help vs. Web Help

      We develop a large database front end and have a mature help file for the app in WinHelp format. To provide Vista support, we need to upgrade to a Vista supported help format. We would like to continue to distribute our help system as a single compiled file (it simplifies our install procedure). We also want our help system to be remotely accessible: our application is usually installed on a network drive with the help file in the same location, and several clients run both the app and the help system across the network.

      RoboHelp gives us two options for a Vista supported format, but both of them have flaws:

      --Microsoft HTML Help (CHM) bundles everything into a single file, as we are used to. But recent security patches prevent the HTML help system from using our file across the network.

      --WebHelp will supposedly work across the network, but it has no option (that I know of) for compiling everything into a single file.

      Any comments on this dilemma will be appreciated...
        • 1. Re: HTML Help vs. Web Help
          Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional
          Welcome to the forum

          Those are your options. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

          The CHM restrictions can be overcome as described on my site but it is not really the route to go. You might upset some customers!

          Yes webhelp has lots of files but they are all off one folder and its subfolders so it is reasonably contained. Because you can use skins, it looks much more professional.

          There are lots of people using it and it is the correct format for your scenario.

          • 2. Re: HTML Help vs. Web Help
            Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP
            Hi all

            Keep in mind that even the venerable WinHelp continues to work in Vista. As I understand it, if it's 16 bit WinHelp, it works with no issue. But 32 bit WinHelp will require downloading and installing the Vista capable 32 Bit WinHelp viewer from Microsoft.

            Cheers... Rick
            • 3. Re: HTML Help vs. Web Help
              chitwngman Level 1
              Thank you for the comments.

              One thing I forgot to mention: our application is built on Sybase PowerBuilder 10.5 and uses the built in function to call our help system. According to the Sybase documentation, the built in function (ShowHelp()) ONLY knows about WinHelp and HTML Help...so I'm not sure we can even launch WebHelp from our application. If anyone knows of a resource for PowerBuilder / WinHelp integration, I'd appreciate the mention.

              BTW, I am aware that WinHelp is usable in Vista (I've set up my own machine for it), but I think we're hoping not to force our customers through that installation hoop...
              • 4. Re: HTML Help vs. Web Help
                RoboColum(n) Level 5
                Hi chitwngman. First of all let me qualify my comments by saying I am not familiar with Powerbuilder. If that is what the documentation says then I'm not going to argue. Would an upgrade to a newer version of PowerBuilder solve the problem? If not, you seem to be stuck with the CHM or Winhelp scenarios.
                • 5. Re: HTML Help vs. Web Help
                  ElisaFnord Level 2
                  There's always the fall-back with WebHelp - calling topics by URL, rather than through an API. It makes the programmers complain about the extra work, but it's relatively straightforward.

                  There's a good explanation of this on Peter Grainge's site www.grainge.org. Hope it helps.

                  • 6. Re: HTML Help vs. Web Help
                    MergeThis Level 4
                    Elisa's right: calling the URL works for PowerBuilder, or even a combination of PB and C#.

                    For context-sensitive calls, they must go through your start page to get the navigation frameset ( ex: MyStartPage.htm#MyTargetTopic.htm).

                    Good luck,