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Hi Mark and welcome to our community.
First of all CHM are indeed compiled HTML files into which all the help file content is included. In much the same way as winhelp in fact except it also includes the TOC so there's no need to ship a .CNT equivalent. Flashhelp (and webhelp) are as you surmise a collection of files that require shipping. CHM files are designed to work locally on a user's PC and are normally installed by an application setup.exe. Flashhelp and Webhelp are designed to be published on a server or website and accessed by the user.
You say that a posting has scuppered using CHMs. Why's that? It sounds like that's exactly what you require.
Hi Mark and welcome to our community
(long and deep breath)
For starters, your WinHelp files will probably be fine on Vista. Particularly if they are 16 bit. I understand Vista is shipping with the 16 bit WinHelp display engine installed and if the files are 32 bit, the first use of a 32 bit file will prompt a download of the Vista compatible 32 bit WinHelp display engine. Even so, a move away from WinHelp is what Microsoft is wanting all developers to do.
FlashHelp and WebHelp are basically the same thing. Each uses the same set of HTML topic files as the information base. But FlashHelp uses Adobe Flash to display the navigation components. TOC, Index, Search, Glossary. With either of these formats, let's say you have 50 topic files. You end up with what I refer to as a "swarm" of output files. Far more than the base 50 you started with. All the extra files are there to support different browser types and all sorts of settings. So you really do need to ship all the output files in order to make it work. Personally, I'd avoid using either of these formats for local deployment. There are issues that arise when they are used locally.
Compiled .CHM files exist as a single distributable file with a .CHM format. (Pronounced "CHUM") They are compiled help modules. These are intended and preferred for a local deployment.
Hopefully that answers a few of the questions... Rick
Thanks Colum and Rick, most helpful.
The problem I referred to was the same as referred to in the posting called "Compiler error". When I run the compile to create the chm file I get a fatal error just before it finishes and when I try to open the resulting chm file I get a message about mk:@MSITStore etc. I've tried replacing the dll and ocx files and re-registering, but no luck. I'm going to get our technical guys on to it I think!
Once that's sorted I can hopefully build the chm file and, from what you've said, that sounds like the ideal format to use.