14 Replies Latest reply on Mar 26, 2007 12:39 PM by HKabaker

    Maintaining compatibility with Windows 98 and Vista

    kittim
      I need to convert and existing winhelp project into a format that will retain compatibility with windows 98, but will also be compatible with vista. I also need to be able to access captivate demos from within the help file. I used .exe's from winhelp, but I amt told that they wont launch from webhelp, and that I will need to create .swf files if I use htmlhelp or webhelp. I have used robohelp for years, was an original betatester, and I have not switched over to html or web help for a variety of reasons, so I really don't know how to choose what I should use. Please help me to understand what are the advantages and disadvantages of each. Thanks...
        • 1. Re: Maintaining compatibility with Windows 98 and Vista
          Linux Rules Level 2
          Hello kittim -

          HTML Help is not true html (it's a compiled format - Microsft hijacked the term) - it is only for Windows Infernal Exploiter. Previous patches from MS have created problems with HTML Help (fixed security issues). You may have future distribution or client-side setup issues with this help format. Not sure how well it plays with Vista.

          WebHelp is a "truer" HTML help and works in different browsers and operating systems - with pretty good success. That is, RH does some weird stuff that is not really W3C compliant so test your project well.

          As for SWF, be sure your users are permitted to use that file format (security and bandwith issues for some).

          Regards,
          GEWB
          • 2. Re: Maintaining compatibility with Windows 98 and Vista
            kittim Level 1
            Thanks for your help. Is there another format for the captivate files that is more appropriate, requiring less info about users?
            • 3. Re: Maintaining compatibility with Windows 98 and Vista
              RoboWizard Level 4
              Hi all

              I would respectfully disagree to an extent with what GEWB stated. While it's true that compiled HTML Help files use components of Internet Explorer for the display mechanism, the files being displayed are still HTML files nontheless. Aside from folks perhaps coding them more loosely than your average HTML files (because IE usually isn't all that persnickety with code) the files inside are basic run of the mill HTML files.

              I think to say that "Microsoft has created problems with HTML Help files" is a fuzz misleading. This really typically applies to files you place on a network server. Indeed, that functionality no longer works. Files that are placed on your desktop or within your Windows system (Vista or otherwise) should be fine.

              Most browsers nowadays are already capable of playing Flash (.SWF) content. And the same content may be used equally well from inside a compiled .CHM file as with WebHelp. With WebHelp, if you link to a Captivate .EXE, it won't simply play for you. Your end user will typically see the standard "Whaddya wanna do with this file? Run it from here or save it somewhere?" dialog each time they click the link.

              Essentially the driving factors are this:
              Will your help file be shipped alongside an application that is installed to the user's PC? If so, .CHM is likely your choice.

              Will your help file be created to support an application your user has to open off the web or a company intranet? If so, WebHelp/FlashHelp is your choice. (Or maybe WebHelp Pro/FlashHelp Pro)

              Cheers all... Rick
              • 4. Maintaining compatibility with Windows 98 and Vista
                CraigCC Level 2
                Hi Rick,

                I’d just like to throw 2cents across the Atlantic and open something up for discussion.

                In my humble opinion, I think times are changing and don't think a .chm is now always the best choice for running help files locally. RoboHelp 6 now provides a mark of the web option when compiling WebHelp which allows the format to be run locally – flashhelp always had this

                Although, I agree that webhelp/html help both have their pro's and cons, webhelp is now a very viable option for local use. The driving factors behind using a the .chm format for local use do not fit in with policies and procedures, knowledge bases or even application help that needs to be delivered to multiple platforms.

                The plethora of webhelp files (and flashhelp files) are normally hidden from the user and disk space is rarely an issue. WebHelp gives you a bit of flexibility whereas the .chm is always destined for local use. I appreciate that webhelp should be placed on a server where possible at least to make updates more manageable, but when it can’t why be afraid of using it locally?

                I’m interested and happy to get my sanity slapped - why are people still so uncomfortable using the WebHelp format for delivering content locally?

                Kind Regards
                Craig
                • 5. Re: Maintaining compatibility with Windows 98 and Vista
                  RoboColum(n) Level 5
                  Umm! Thought I'd also put my hat in the ring on this one and cast a few more ripples across the ocean. To be fair, Rick did say CHM was "likely" to be your format for local distribution but I'm glad Craig has raised this point. On rare occasions I have seen advantages of having webhelp rather than CHM for local PCs. I guess it depends on the physical requirements of each project.

                  On an aside, the lead developer where I used to work cringed when my CHM reached 3mb. What he wanted me to do about it is still unclear. Stop documenting? I'd dred to think what he'd have done with webhelp output. Perhaps there is still this "conserve space" attitude left over from the days of valves and punched tape input.
                  • 6. Maintaining compatibility with Windows 98 and Vista
                    kittim Level 1
                    While I appreciate the philosophical discussion regarding the best output format to use locally, I am having a problem trying to do that. Perhaps one of you guys would be so kind as to take a look at the "Fatal Error" topic in HTMLHelp forum and help me to solve this problem so that I may decide the question posed/discussed here.
                    Thanks...
                    • 7. Re: Maintaining compatibility with Windows 98 and Vista
                      CraigCC Level 2
                      Colum,

                      I was just stimulating discussion not questioning Rick's vast experience in this area.

                      Kittim,

                      Sorry did not mean to hijack your thread, it seemed on topic to me. Sure we will view your specific question posted in the HTML Help forum. Keep in mind, this is a pier to pier support forum.

                      Kind Regards
                      Craig
                      • 8. Re: Maintaining compatibility with Windows 98 and Vista
                        RoboWizard Level 4
                        Hi again kittim

                        Ouch! You initially ask a question in this forum about which format you may want to use, then seem to become upset when a discussion ensues over the very merits of what you asked.

                        Politely backing away now...

                        Sincerely... Rick
                        • 9. Re: Maintaining compatibility with Windows 98 and Vista
                          MergeThis Level 4
                          So, let me see if I can figure this out.

                          In your initial post, you say "Please help me to understand what are the advantages and disadvantages of each." Then, when a "philosophical discussion" ensues between four highly experienced users who've logged, in total, 5,176 posts to this peer-to-peer user forum, you get upset?

                          Good luck,
                          Leon
                          • 10. Re: Maintaining compatibility with Windows 98 and Vista
                            kittim Level 1
                            With all due respect, you guys have misinterpreted my post. I wasn't at all upset. Even as I reread my post I am surprised that you guys interpret it as being upset.

                            I guess when I posted I thought I would get an answer that would make the choice obvious. I found the discussion interesting, but it didn't help me to proceed one way or the other. I decided to try both since the choice which to use was not very clear cut. I was having a problem trying to compile the HTMLhelp. I was trying to figure out that issue when I received a response, politely informing me that I had not observed proper nettiqute by posting in more that one area with the same question. I do not usually post on these forums, so I am inexperienced at doing so. With my last post here, I was merely trying to direct the guys who were gracious enough to this answer this question to my other post/problem. I started to post it in this thread, but I thought that might be wrong as it was changing topic and I should start a new topic and it might not be in the correct area. This is why I "cross-posted" in the first place because I wasn't sure what area it was best to put it in. I am under a tight deadline and needed help.

                            I came here for an answer to a problem. I was thrilled when you guys answered my question. As you guys can see, I am not a usual visitor here. You guys have to understand that I am sitting here at my desk, having a problem, need answer fast. In that environment, you don't think... well let me read about the proper way to interact on this forum; let me make sure that I reread my post and ask myself would this wording offend anyone? It never even occurred to me that it might! And let me say, I am still not upset. The last thing I want is to waste everyones time. But I have to say, I feel like I will be a little reluctant to ever post again. I hope this post is not misinterpreted as well. I am just trying to clarify.

                            Thanks again for your help.
                            • 11. Re: Maintaining compatibility with Windows 98 and Vista
                              Linux Rules Level 2
                              Hello kittim -

                              I didn't interpret your post as "being upset" - a bit stressed perhaps, but not upset.

                              8^)

                              (Relax, breath deep, hold... stretch, exhale, scratch head and repeat.)

                              Don't be reluctant to ask questions in this forum but do take a few minutes to look at the product/feature structure of the forums for posting relavent questions. Also, the SEARCH function can be your best friend.

                              Regards,
                              GEWB
                              • 12. Re: Maintaining compatibility with Windows 98 and Vista
                                CraigCC Level 2
                                Hi All,

                                the confusion seems to be down to responses running on two threads - kittim apologised for being a bit short on the other thread and it was cool. That probably got missed by anyone who did not view the other thread.

                                No harm done kittim and as I said on the other thread 'no worries' - post back and let us know how you get on. This is a very friendly forum.

                                All cool and no harm done.
                                Craig
                                • 13. Re: Maintaining compatibility with Windows 98 and Vista
                                  kittim Level 1
                                  Continuing on...
                                  The software developer has made my decision easy. They hate Webhelp and want to use HTMLHelp. Although I have not resolved my Fatal Error problem, I have a new problem. I sent the developers examples of both webhelp and htmlhelp. Everything displayed fine in webhelp, but I can't get images or captivate movies to display/launch from the .chm file. So I know I am doing something wrong. The only images that display are ones that I inserted using words native insert picture command. Using the Robohelp insert image results in a red question mark. I assumed that the images are not part of the .chm, although I though that is the purpose of the .chm, a single comiled file. And clicking on the link to the captivate movie causes "0". NOthing. no error no movie. Please help. I have done a search and have been unable to find anything that will help me. I am using robohelp for word x5.0.1
                                  Thanks...
                                  Kitti
                                  • 14. Re: Maintaining compatibility with Windows 98 and Vista
                                    HKabaker Level 2
                                    You might consider moving away from RH for Word.

                                    Since you are generating either chm or WebHelp, maybe it would be best to use RoboHelp for html help or RobHtml for WebHelp.

                                    Maybe you'll end up with fewer problems in producing a more efficient and better assembled output.

                                    Just a thought.

                                    Oh by the way, if you're working in Win XP, you should download and install the RHX5.0.2 updater.

                                    Good luck,

                                    Harvey