19 Replies Latest reply on Jan 10, 2012 4:03 AM by Peter Grainge

    Skins for CHMs?

    TheCellBee

      Hello,

      RH 8x to CHM

       

      I know this topic has been visited and revisited, but I feel compelled to ask again...it is a new decade after all.

       

      Is there any mechanism in place in RH to attach a skin to a CHM? I read Rick Stone's technique from a while ago and I am hoping that something new has emerged.

       

      Any RH plugins for the skinning of CHMs?

       

      Thanks.

        • 1. Re: Skins for CHMs?
          Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

          You can wait for Microsoft to update the compiler but you might die first. Have you looked at AIR help?

           


          See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

           

          @petergrainge

          • 2. Re: Skins for CHMs?
            TheCellBee Level 1

            Hmmm. As I suspected. I am unwilling to lay my life down for the compiler update, but I will look at AIR help.

            Thanks.

            • 3. Re: Skins for CHMs?
              Mentos1

              Hello Peter,

               

              I'm also in need for skins in my CHMs.

              I guess there's nothing new regarding this isuue, is there?

               

              Any way, asuuming I must use CHM files, are there any other tools RoboHelp offers for decorating the pages in a way similar to skins? (colored titles, backgrounds, styles etc...). Anything?

               

              Thanks.

              • 4. Re: Skins for CHMs?
                Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                Nothing that is not already covered in the thread.

                 


                See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

                 

                @petergrainge

                • 5. Re: Skins for CHMs?
                  robert-sfl Level 1

                  What you can do is to compile a customized webhelp, import the files into RoboHelp as baggage, then set the start file as new default and compile it all into a CHM (with all tabs and buttons deactivated). It does work but it's a pain. Not practical, just a gag I tried out.

                   

                  It would be groovy if Robohelp would offer this feature as an automatic function (select Webhelp skin in the HTML Help SSL and RH does the rest)..

                  • 6. Re: Skins for CHMs?
                    robert-sfl Level 1

                    P.S.

                     

                    What you get looks something like this, and everybody will wonder how you did it. It is also possible with FlashHelp allthough I stress it would only be a practical life gimmic if RH would do it automatically.

                     

                    webhelp_in_chm.jpg

                    • 7. Re: Skins for CHMs?
                      Mentos1 Level 1

                      Hi Robert,

                       

                      The result does look beautiful!

                       

                      I'm new to RoboHelp so I don't exactly follow you.

                      What do you mean by "import the files into RoboHelp as baggage, then set the start file as new default" and "with all tabs and buttons deactivated"

                       

                      Could you explain the steps with more details or attach some screen shots?

                      • 8. Re: Skins for CHMs?
                        robert-sfl Level 1

                        Hi, this is really only a fun game, I do not attempt this in real life

                        projects because it is too much effort and does not add anything to the

                        help - better to use the time working on content. I had suggested it as

                        an automatic function for RoboHelp using their feature proposal form. If

                        it was done automatically in the background it really would be a nice

                        gag to have.

                         

                        What you basically do is generate a normal Webhelp first in project A.

                        Then you pack the output files into a new project B by importing them

                        all as baggage files. Then you compile a new CHM that only serves as a

                        transporting box for the Webhelp. To make the WebHelp appear when you

                        open the CHM, it is necessary to set the default topic of the SSL in

                        project B to point to the opening file of the Webhelp. Also deactivate

                        the tabs (TOC, search etc.) and toolbar buttons in the CHM window

                        settings in project B. The CHM should do nothing else than display the

                        Webhelp. An awkward process.

                        • 9. Re: Skins for CHMs?
                          Mentos1 Level 1

                          OK,

                           

                          Let's hope RH will adopt your idea.

                           

                          Thanks,

                          Mentos.

                          • 10. Re: Skins for CHMs?
                            Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                            Hi there Mentos1

                             

                            I'm likely the first person to have developed this technique many years ago. As robert-sfl indicated, while fun, it's a bit painful to achieve. If memory serves, at the time there were certain aspects of the WebHelp that failed inside the CHM. I believe it was the index.

                             

                            I do agree with all that it would be a way cool feature for Adobe to include. But before they will even entertain the idea, they need to be "reminded" that there are still many users using the CHM format. I get the impression that Adobe along with many folks feels that CHM is dead. Additionally, Adobe has their own solution called AIRHelp they want folks to use. So that dilutes their opinion of CHM even more.

                             

                            What we really need here is a horde of users to flood Adobe with Wish Form requests asking for this feature for CHM files. Personally, I feel there is still life in CHM output. But I'm a lonely voice to Adobe. If gobs of users started flooding their Wish Form with CHM requests, they might view things a bit differently.

                             

                            Liink to the Wish Form is in my sig.

                             

                            Happy New Year all... Rick

                             

                            Helpful and Handy Links

                            RoboHelp Wish Form/Bug Reporting Form

                            Begin learning RoboHelp HTML 7, 8 or 9 within the day!

                            Adobe Certified RoboHelp HTML Training

                            SorcerStone Blog

                            RoboHelp eBooks

                            • 11. Re: Skins for CHMs?
                              robert-sfl Level 1

                              Rick,

                               

                              if you have tried this method too, did you find a simple way to redirect

                              context-sensitive calls? I did find two solutions, but they again were a

                              bit of an effort not suitable for a real project. If I recall correctly,

                              first method was to  import the *.H file into the CHM project and then

                              manually edited the Ali file to direct to the WebHelp or Flashhelp

                              topics (e.g., ). Method two was to make a

                              transparent redirection of all calls in the CHM project using a script

                              in a dedicated redirection topic, but this involved dummy entries in the

                              H and Ali files for each required map number.

                               

                              Maybe you found a better way?

                               

                              Robert

                              • 12. Re: Skins for CHMs?
                                Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                Hi Robert

                                 

                                At the time (I think this was 2002 or so) folks were asking if it was even possible. I recall the idea striking me on the drive home from my corporate drone job. I tested and it mostly worked but the Index failed.

                                 

                                But that's as far as I took it. (or was able to) See, at the time my involvement with RoboHelp was from a Knowledge Base standpoint. My help system was a Knowledge Base used by call center folks. It wasn't supporting an app. I knew about CSH but had never had a reason to implement it. So I never tested whether a CSH call would work.

                                 

                                I did once encounter a lady at a conference that thanked me for coming up with the idea and said she had implemented it at her company. But I'm not sure if she was doing the CSH thing either.

                                 

                                I also put it forward to the RoboHelp development team at eHelp. Mike Hamilton was at the helm in those days and said it looked interesting and would see about possibly investigating it as an output option. Unfortunately nothing ever came of it. Which is too bad, really. That could address a load of issues! I mean, AIR Help is attractive in its own way, but it suffers from the fact it must be installed, while a CHM can just be copied and end of story!

                                 

                                So there you have it. Straight outta my twisted little brain! Rick

                                 

                                Helpful and Handy Links

                                RoboHelp Wish Form/Bug Reporting Form

                                Begin learning RoboHelp HTML 7, 8 or 9 within the day!

                                Adobe Certified RoboHelp HTML Training

                                SorcerStone Blog

                                RoboHelp eBooks

                                • 13. Re: Skins for CHMs?
                                  robert-sfl Level 1

                                  Hi Rick,

                                  I did this a few years ago but not nearly as early as you. I did not have problems with the index, perhaps you just have not import all required files as baggage? Regrettably there seems to be no way to add an attachment, but I just checked with an old CHM from those tests that contains a Flashhelp and both index and CSH functionality still work on my system.

                                   

                                  Personally I see no immediate future for AIR help either. All people I talked to were first delighted with the online update function and then apalled when they saw how the help must be installed with admin rights which end user don't have. Alone the fact that end users must first confirm the terms of usage for Air (an application they did not willingly install or request) before they can read the documentation of their software poses problems.

                                   

                                  Robert

                                  • 14. Re: Skins for CHMs?
                                    Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                                    Were the people who were "appalled" at the need for admin rights people who had covered this with clients or who just assumed it would be a reaction. The product that is going to be installed with the help is going to need admin rights. Our clients mostly push the intallation so that end users are not involved. Does anyone read the terms of usage for anything? Yes we all should but really, is that done every time?

                                     

                                    Updating the help is done at a different time but it can also be pushed, albeit losing the automatic advantage.

                                     

                                    There are many considerations that have to be taken into account with AIR help and it will not suit everyone. However, I don't see any of the objections as meaning it is not a valid form of help for some scenarios.

                                     

                                    The number of downloads of the AIR Runtime runs into the tens of millions at least so even if it wasn't intalled on a PC to run help, it is already on many PCs.

                                     

                                    I don't mean to sound as argumenative as this may come across. Just try to put some balance in.

                                     


                                    See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

                                     

                                    @petergrainge

                                    • 15. Re: Skins for CHMs?
                                      robert-sfl Level 1

                                      Hi Peter,

                                       

                                      I really don't intend to keep anyone from using AIR help, nor do I want

                                      to sell them on a particular help platform. I depends on the individual

                                      sitiuation.

                                       

                                      Air Help may be a practical solution if end users have the required

                                      rights and and an internet connection to benefit from the update

                                      functionality. I for myself, as most users in office environments that I

                                      know of, have neither. But this really depends on how you define the

                                      preconditions and target group of your help project.

                                       

                                      A help system is in the first place characterized by being helpful. It

                                      should not require the end user to jump through any hoops.

                                       

                                      Robert

                                      • 16. Re: Skins for CHMs?
                                        Jeff_Coatsworth Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                        You do know that you can install the locally-installed version of AIRHelp silently, right?

                                        • 17. Re: Skins for CHMs?
                                          Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                                          That was my point Jeff when I referred to installation being pushed. The end user does not have to go through any hoops if the installation is set up correctly.

                                           


                                          See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

                                           

                                          @petergrainge

                                          • 18. Re: Skins for CHMs?
                                            robert-sfl Level 1

                                            Peter,

                                             

                                            I am not sure if I understand correctly -are you referring to the update

                                            functionality or just the main installation of the help being done

                                            remote by the administrator? The former would be the main benefit of Air

                                            help in my opinion if it could be done without admin rights.

                                             

                                            Robert

                                            • 19. Re: Skins for CHMs?
                                              Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                                              The initial installation of the help can be done remotely including the installation of the AIR runtime provided that is built into the installer.

                                               

                                              It is not that it is done without admin rights, the point is the system admin has those rights. The end user does not need admin rights to use the help once it is installed.

                                               

                                              Updates could also be pushed that way but that would not strictly speaking be auto update.

                                               


                                              See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

                                               

                                              @petergrainge