4 Replies Latest reply on Jul 11, 2006 10:53 AM by prhmusic

    What can replace WinHelp?

    Bob_Royster Level 1
      I produce online help in WinHelp format that we attach to a graphical-user-interface (GUI) overlay on our AS/400 applications. When the application user clicks the Help button, the online help opens to either the specific topic for that window or to the help system's Welcome page.

      We would prefer to switch our help format to HTMLHelp (CHM file), but cannot because of Microsoft Security Update 896358. Some of our writers work on a server and some of our clients run applications (and therefore Help) on a server, and the security update, as some of you well know, will not allow CHM files to work on a server (at least not without some registry editing, which our software security people are not inclined to do).

      If it is true, as I have been told, that WinHelp is essentially a dying (if not dead) format, and we cannot use CHM, what alternatives do we have? Is there anything else that can replace WinHelp? I know about the relatively simple workarounds if the CHM file is downloaded from the Internet, but that's not the case with us; it is attached to the application itself.

      Does anybody have any suggestions? They would be much appreciated.

      Thanks.
        • 1. Re: What can replace WinHelp?
          Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP
          Hi Bob and welcome to our community

          Is there a reason you couldn't substitute WebHelp for WinHelp in the server environment?

          Cheers... Rick
          • 2. Re: What can replace WinHelp?
            mercurygirl
            I have a question along the same lines. The reason I produce WinHelp has to do with the language our products are written in. The developers have informed me that we can not upgrade our context-sensitive help because of the language limitations. Does that mean I'm just stuck until we rewrite our products?

            Thanks,

            Sara Beth
            • 3. Re: What can replace WinHelp?
              Roger N Level 2
              Sara -

              Welcome to the forum.

              The most likely scenario is for your developers to install the Vista Winhelp plug-in when they install the help system. This plug-in, of course, doesn't exist yet (ok, we haven't seen it) , but it's part of the proposed Vista plan, they tell us.
              • 4. Re: What can replace WinHelp?
                prhmusic
                Sara,

                What I would do in your situation is to create a CHM file that has all your content, but use the WinHelp 2000 viewer to display the HTML topic in your WinHelp file on the right hand side. You would have to code a topic-level macro to jump to the correct topic in the CHM file. You will also need to distribue the CHM file with your WinHelp projet files so, for example, if you have APP1.HLP, you would also distribute APP1.CHM.

                This approach does three things for you:
                1) it allows you to code your content in HTML while you wait for Dev to catch up
                2) it allows you to be ready for when Dev says, "we're starting the conversion of our apps."
                3) it allows you to do the conversion to HTML in pieces. You only have to add the topic-level macros to those topics that have been converted to HTML. You can still have some topics in WinHelp. I do this now for our internal help file and it works well.

                When Dev changes, you will already have your content in HTML and will only have to make changes that are based upon any interface changes. Otherwise, you would have to code the HTML as part of the conversion from WinHelp to HTML and also code the HTML to adapt the changes that are made to the interface.

                Hint: At the same time that you are creating the CHM file, you should be coding your Index and building the TOC, even though no one will see the TOC and Index until you are 100% using CHM files.

                Paul Hanson
                Technical Writer
                Adobe Community Expert - RoboHelp
                http://www.macromedia.com/support/forums/team_macromedia/team_members/200.html
                Quintrex Data Systems
                http://www.quintrex.com