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Check This Out!

Every once in a while, we'll feature a tool we think the Help community should know about ...

Theta-Software - HelpTron is an exceptional HTML Help WYSIWYG development tool ... and there's no beating the price considering what's in there. This is one of the most complete UI's for help creation we've seen yet, taking everything that's needed and wrapping it in an environment that's a cross between Microsoft Word and VS.NET. And it even exports PDF's! HelpTron comes highly recommended.

Non-English HTML Help Sites

Mavica - The French version of this directory, edited by t3medien's Dominique Porta, has some great Help and HTML Help links

 Mineyuki Tamura's Japanese support site for 'HTML Help for Visual Basic' (shareware).
 Spanish site - Nice HHW tutorial under the title 'AyudaHTML'.
 Ulrich Kulle's News and Examples (German)

 

Microsoft® Links

Microsoft® HTML Help Workshop - This is a section on the Microsoft® site dedicated to the new HTML Help standard.

Microsoft Help MVP Program - Help MVP's.

Creating Visual Basic Help Menu Items for Use with HTML Help - One of my own articles.

Changes and Additions to The Official Microsoft HTML Help Authoring Kit

Adding Help to Your Custom Solution - A very unique article on adding HTML Help to Office 2000 applications.

Guidelines for Accessible Web Pages - Guidelines for Web Accessibility Design and Internet Explorer, including some specific to HTML Help.

The following HTML Help-related Knowledge Base articles are available on the Microsoft® site:

Q189453: Prepare HTML Help Files for Context-Sensitive Help
Q192118: Use HTML Help Text Popup Windows in VBasic Program
Q183434: Use HTML Help API in a Visual Basic Application

 

Microsoft® Help MVP's

Josef Becker's HelpMaster - The largest repository of help-related freeware and shareware tools and utilities anywhere on the internet. If you're looking for something, look here first.

Scott Boggan's HelpCraft - Scott has recently teamed up with WinWriters to develop material for their help conferences. One of the more unique items at HelpCraft is HSHAT, a collection of dialog boxes, toolbars, and tag snippets that will give you a head start on using Allaire's HomeSite to author HTML Help files. Scott's also written an article for PC Magazine called Getting Started with Microsoft HTML Help Workshop, and a couple of related articles,Browser-Independent Help and HTML Help Authoring Tools.

Bill Burns

Robert Chandler's HelpWare - Robert and I work together on HTML Help techniques and information on a regular basis. His FAR program makes developing HTML Help files quite simple when using Microsoft® FrontPage as the raw HTML editor. Robert's site contains a comprehensive HTML Help TechInfo page and a lot of other useful information.

Robert Cavicchio

Dana Cline's LogicSmith - Dana has a lot of legacy information about Help, particularly where VB and WinHelp are concerned. There are also stories and images of his climbing and cruising adventures. Make sure to check out his mom's dessert recipe page!

Jeff Hall's Eon Solutions - Jeff's company offers some unique help authoring tools. Easy HTML/Help uses Microsoft Word as the editing tool in order to allow for the development of both HTML Help files and paper documentation from either existing or new Word documents.

Yuko Ishida's KeiYu HelpLab - Yuko's comprehensive Japanese site contains quite a bit of information about HTML Help technology. Yuko is a contributor to the WinHlp-L list and is quite creative when it comes to HTML Help research.

David Liske's HTML Help Center - You're already here.

Paul Neshamkin's Paul Neshamkin Group - Paul is a former Director of Training and Technical Support at WexTech Systems, and his company offers HTML Help and Windows Help solutions for large and small businesses, consultancy, and training.

M.J. Plaster's WWWinnovations - M.J. offers help system development, and consultancy and training on various help authoring tools. Her site is also the home of the official HTML Help Wish/Gripe List.

Rick Stone - RoboHELP MVP Rick Stone has developed a set of Tips 'n Tricks help files for HTML Help, with additional information on RoboHTML. He covers everything from adding notes to email tricks and Information Types. This is a great resource, and should be in everyone's collection.

Cheri Lockett Zubak's WorkWrite Software - Cheri is a regular speaker at Help conferences. There are quite a few nice things here on her site, particularly in the Tools and Resources sections. She also has a site listing her book projects, HelpThink Press.

 

Related Microsoft Employee Homepages

Paul O'Rear's Helpful Solutions - Paul's a former Help MVP who's now at Microsoft. His Helpful Solutions provides consultation and custom software development services for Online Help authors and application developers. Paul has also written the very-helpful paper "How to Create a Silent, Minimal Install of Microsoft® IE5 for Products using Microsoft HTML Help", which is available here. See Pauls MSDN blog The Help Guy for all things current with Microsoft Help.

HTML Help Information

HelpWare - Fellow HTML Help MVP Robert Chandler's site contains a comprehensive HTML Help TechInfo page and a lot of other useful information.

HHV Support - Mineyuki Tamura's Japanese support site for 'HTML Help for Visual Basic' (shareware). Methods for using HTML Help with Visual Basic are also explained.

KeiYu HelpLab - Fellow HTML Help MVP Yuko Ishida's comprehensive Japanese site containing information about HTML Help technology. Yuko is a contributor to the WinHlp-L list and is quite creative when it comes to HTML Help research.

Oz's Page For Developers - At first glance, Oz Solomonovich's page doesn't appear to have anything to do with HTML Help. However, the site includes two sample applications that use HTML help, and the applications and their code is free. Besides the sample code, if you program with Visual C++, you would probably find the applications (DevStudio add-ins) useful in their own right. The two add-ins are Project Line Counter and WndTabs (WndTabs version 2.50 uses HTML help). Both add-ins share the same code base to implement HTML Help integration. Also, the online help file for Project Line Counter includes a small explanation of the HTMLHelpBase.cpp file use to implement HH dialogs.

Technical Talent Resource - One of more uniquely-basic downloads I've seen is Sheila Meyer's robohtml_extras.exe. This installer combines eHelps HHActiveX.dll and Microsoft's hhupd.exe into one install. This is one of those things where I only have one question ... Why didn't I think of that??

TANSTAAFL Software - Dana Cline has a rather busy HTML Help forum, and other good resources to go with it. This forum is mainly used by C/C++ developers, but once in a while some VB information comes out. Make sure you check out Dana's ice climbing photos!

Shareware and Freeware

AnetSoft - AnetHelpTool32 is a software tool for the creation of Help systems for MS WINDOWS-based applications. It supports several types of output help format: WinHelp (16 and 32 bit), HTML Help and Java Help. It also greatly simplifies design since the program is almost fully WYSIWYG and looks like an actual help file.

HelpWare - Robert Chandler and I work together on HTML Help techniques and information on a regular basis. His shareware FAR program makes developing HTML Help files quite simple when using Microsoft® FrontPage as the raw HTML editor. Robert's site contains a comprehensive HTML Help TechInfo page and a lot of other useful information.

HH Hex Helper - Thomas Menath's freeware utilities for calculating the hexadecimal values for buttons and window definitions for use in an HHP file. No calculator required!

HTML Help for Visual Basic - Mineyuki Tamura's shareware tool for easily developing HTML Help. The concept behind this tool is that anyone should be able to develop HTML Help. Note: Japanese is the only language supported.

HTMLHelp ePublisher - A new product, released on January 3, 2000. I haven't had the opportunity to look at it yet, but hopefully soon.

KeyWorks - Home of Ralph Walden, Microsoft's original help architect for QuickHelp, WinHelp, and HTML Help. His freeware KeyTools and KeyHelp products are a must to have.

Missing!: Popup Topic Editor - If you're using MS HTML Help Workshop to make your help files and you are adding context popups to your program then Ken's Popup Topic Editor just might be of interest to you. It has quite a broad range of features, including the ability to test popups as they're being developed. The Popup Topic Editor is available in five languages: English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

Visage Software - Windows Help Designer/HTML Edition is a 32-bit application for creating HTML Help files. It provides all the basic features of a HTML Help project.

VizAcct - VizAcct's HelpJotter allows for the creation of web-based, HTML Help, RTF and WinHelp file formats. It's quite inexpensive, and doesn't appear to require Word.

WPM 5.0 - This highly-creative CHM viewer from Jerry Mead and the folks at Meadroid allows you to create all sorts of windows for your help files. The demo will surprise you with what WPM is capable of. There are some things in there I never would have thought possible.

 

Consultants

CyberText Consulting - Rhonda Bracey's company (based in Perth, Western Australia) offers documentation services in Word, WinHelp, HTML Help, HDK, etc.

DesignDocs - One of the best things about Lin Laurie's site is the newsletter. This thing is chock-full of great tips for technical writers in all disciplines. As of March 2001, she has about 2500 subscribers, making it even more popular than the HATT list itself. Check it out!

helpstuff - Char James-Tanny offers help system development, consultancy, and training to some of the biggest names in the industry. She's also written the recently-released book Teach Yourself RoboHELP 2000 for HTML Help.

HTMLBasedHelp.com - Sponsored by Weisner Associates, this site offers resources and training for all types of HTML-based help, including HTML Help.

Hyper/Word Services - Neil Perlin's site, offering expert training, consulting, and development for Windows Help, HTML Help, and general online documentation. There's a lot of great information on this site, such as WinHelp-to-HTML Help conversion test results.

HyperTexas - John Daigle is a known leader in the fields of both WinHelp and HTML Help, and is a regular speaker at international Help conferences.

OnlyContent - Leland Dieno is a former member of the HATT list. His work includes creating documentation forEQuake, a small multiplayer Quake application. This documentation is CHM-based using CSS, HTML, and Flash.

Shadow Mountain Tech - Don Lammers is a regular on the WinHlp-L list and also speaks at conferences. One of his recent presentations was entitled "Connecting Help To Visual Basic Programs", which included code which was modified from our own HTML Help class module.

Software Interphase Inc. - One of the more unique aspects of this site is the HTML Help Repository, in conjunction with the many HTML resources listed. There's lots of info to be had here.

Technical Talent Resource - With considerable experience behind them, it looks like Technical Talent Resource can do just about anything. This includes software documentation, web site programming, and application development in Word and Access. Make sure you check out their Helpers section.

TWW Solutions - TWW Solutions "HTML Help Documents and Document Conversions" are a great way to manage documents, manuals, catalogs, etc. Your complex documents will be easier to read, easier to navigate and easier to distribute. TWW files will run on any computer with Windows 95+ and IExplorer 4.0. No additional software is required ... "We're here to HTML Help"©

 

Conferences, Seminars, Training, etc.

HyperWrite - In co-operation with WinWriters, HyperWrite hosts the annual Australasian Online Documentation Conference. They're an Australian hypertext and Internet development company, founded in 1993, specializing in implementing Internet and Intranet strategies, developing online manuals and documents in HTML and WinHelp, creating Web-based applications, and providing specialized training services. One of their more unique items is the WinHelp Vs HTML Help Vs NetHelp Comparison Table.

Knopf Online - David Knopf is a regular on the WinHlp-L list, and he and his group specialize in training and consulting for RoboHelp and RoboHTML. They also offer complete technical and marketing communications services for technology developers and enterprise IT organizations.

Solutions - Solutions works with quite a few consultants, including Char-James Tanny, to present some of the most-respected clinics and seminars in the industry. Solutions also works with WinWriters on conferences, such as the 1999 Help Technology Conference in Boston, Massachussetts.

WinWriters - Specializes in quality training and publications for online Help developers. The WinWriters Online Help Conference draws nearly 1,000 to Seattle each year for the latest news, techniques, and technologies in Windows Help. The Online Help Journal, published by WinWriters, gives some seriously in-depth attention to WinHelp, HTML Help, and the art and science of help systems. It's rather expensive, but if you create help systems even part-time, the Online Help Journal is an indispensable tool.

ListServs

HATT - Bill Swallow's replacement for the WinHlp-L list. This list is growing rapidly, and will likely soon be the one to watch.

HDK-L ListServ - VirtualMedia has a product called HDK (Hypertext Development Kit). This product can be used to create help files for both WinHelp and HTML Help. Their listserv is mainly an HDK support/discussion group, however, a lot of the discussion is on techniques and theory of Help files in general, and specific WinHelp and HTML Help solutions.

List Digests - Daily digests of the WinHlp-L, WexTech-L, HDK-L, Parametrica, and T-ALLGEM lists in HTML Help format. Also contains daily digests of the news:comp.os.ms-windows.programmer.winhelp newsgroup.

t-allgem - An all-German list for technical communicators.

WexTech-L - WexTech maintains the WexTech-L Internet discussion list as a place for our customers to discuss Doc-To-Help, AnswerWorks, and other WexTech products, and provide peer-to-peer support. List subscribers range from certified Doc-To-Help consultants and trainers to users who have just started working with a newly downloaded evaluation copy. Discussions on the WexTech-L list range from quick, simple question-and-answer exchanges to lively threads on Help authoring, printing manuals, and other topics of interest.

WinHlp-L Archive - Searchable archives for the defunct WinHelp-L discussion list.


NewsGroups

Microsoft have closed all newsgroups and help forums that supported Help Authoring. 
Try either:

 

Online Communities

Blue-Sky's eHelp - A collection of online communities and resources providing support for software users. The included RoboHELP community contains forums and resources available for user of Blue-Sky's RoboHELP Office package, Microsoft HTML Help, and related areas.

Browser Utilities

Evolt Browser Archive - Need an older version of Internet Explorer? Or, for that matter, any other version of any other browser on the planet? Adrian Roselli has collected considerably more versions of more browsers than I've ever heard of, and this is the place to get 'em.

HTML Help-to-WinHelp Conversion

HTML Help to WinHelp - Steve Atkins has written a set of freeware Perl scripts to convert HTML Help to WinHelp-ready RTF. Take a look at what it can do (requires Perl, of course).

Microsoft HTML Help ActiveX Control Sample Sites

Instructions for inserting the HTML Help ActiveX control into a web page via Front Page can be found at The Complete WebMaster.

One of the more unique examples is located here. This was developed through the use of Rob Chandler's FAR. Be sure to note the use of the background in the left pane.

Some other examples are:
There are many others that are quite similar to these. Search on "Microsoft HTML Help" (quotes included) at AltaVista.

Microsoft HTML Help Java Applet Sample Sites

For examples of how to use the applet, take a look at:
http://www.spazz3d.com/doc/Default.htm
http://www.arkgen.co.uk/bcpcframe.html

List Digests - Daily digests of the WinHlp-L, WexTech-L, HDK-L, Parametrica, TechWR-L, and T-ALLGEM lists in HTML Help format. Also contains daily digests of the news:comp.os.ms-windows.programmer.winhelp newsgroup. The list digests are listed via the Microsoft HTML Help Java applet in the left frame.


Commercial Sites

Aspire Managed Solutions - Aspire's Help System Developer allows technical writers to develop browser-based (IE 5.5 or greater) help systems that have the essential Contents, Index and Search Panes. A writer can change certain interface objects in the help system browser to display, for example, a company's name, the name of the software, etc. An API allows an application to start a help browser which has either the content tree, search tab, or index tab active when it is launched. The API also allows an application to display an initial topic.

Auric Visions - Makers of DotChm, which comes in both a Professional and an Enterprise edition. The Enterprise edition is unique in that it is supplied with the source code for maintenance purposes.

AVSoft -AVHelp is a Microsoft Word plug-in allowing for the creation of HTML Help files from Word documents. Available in both Lite and Pro versions, this one really gets back to basics regarding the creation of documentation while staying up on how authors write.

Bluette International - While their G Help product is a help system browser based on HTML instead of HTML Help, it's still interesting enough to look into.

Brown, Inc. - HTML Indexer is a tool for indexing HTML files. It includes output options for JavaHelp and HTML Help, command-line invocation, and even greater stylistic control.

Buckeye Software - The HelpID Manager add-in is assists in the process of assigning HelpContextID and WhatsThisHelpID numbers to Visual Basic projects. With HelpID Manager, developers can easily assign individual ID numbers or sequentially number forms, modules, classes or even the entire Visual Basic project.

Buckland, Buchman & Backlund (B3) - B3's new HTML Help authoring tool, B3 Help Studio, is now in an early beta stage (June 4 2001). It looks a tad like FrontPage so the interface has quite a professional appearance. We'll see how this one turns out.

BWSoft - Help Pad is a complete help authoring and online documentation tool for 32-bit Windows platforms. With Help Pad you can create WinHelp and HTML Help from the same source project. Help Pad does not require an expensive word processor, just a help compiler which can be downloaded freely.

ComponentOne - ComponentOne has acquired both Doc2Help from WexTech and ForeHelp from ForeFront Technologies, replacing their own short-lived TrueHelp wih Doc2Help and incorporating some ForeHelp features. What has become of Steve Wexler's HelpXtender is unclear.

Delphi Shop Seven - Delphi Shop Seven's HelpMaker offers stand-alone help authoring for HTML Help, WinHelp, RTF, HTML output, and printed manuals. HelpMaker is a true WYSIWYG Windows help authoring tool allowing for the creation of all types of help files and printed manuals from the same source files.

DevComponents - Their HelpKit product for creating HTML Help features an integrated HTML Help development environment, Visual Basic integration, a WYSIWYG HTML Editor, powerful HTML source editor, CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) editor, HTML Help ActiveX control wizards, task management capabilities, spell checker, Microsoft Word documents import, What's This Help editor, and automatic context ID management.

EC Software - Help & Manual fully supports HTML HELP and lets you create help files for all versions of Microsoft Windows

Eon Software - Has a variety of Help related products including EasyHTML/Help and Shg2Map Hotspot Converter/Decompiler.

Excel Software - QuickHelp is a development tool for quickly creating and distributing online help for Linux applications. QuickHelp consists of a Builder for creating the help topics and a Viewer for deploying them to end-users. The help information resides in a single XML file distributed with the QuickHelp Viewer. For the end-user, QuickHelp supports a table of contents, an index with automatic search field, word searches across topics, color highlighted topic text with hypertext links and context sensitive help from applications. For the developer, QuickHelp provides a highly productive editing environment to create, verify and maintain application help.

HALLoGRAM Publishing - HelpKit includes all the tools you will need to develop great looking help files in less time. Write help files using the HelpKit then integrate them with your application using the HelpKit Visual Basic Assistant. HelpKit Visual Basic Assistant is a completely new approach to the help file integration process.

IG's Software - Using ProHelp as add-on to your favorite help authoring tools for Delphi and C++Builder, you can add high quality Context-Sensitive Help system to your application without writing a single line of code. The HTML Help Pack will allow you use WinHelp and HTML Help engines transparently and much, much more without additional coding. The HTML Help Pack has a set of unique and easy-to-use features that other third-party components don't have.

Indigoware Ltd. - Help Publisher for FrontPage enables you to create HTML Help and MS Help 2.0 files without leaving FrontPage.

Innovasys - Produces the Document! VB tool for creating HTML Help documentation. Document! VB automatically creates a cross linked Microsoft style context sensitive HTML Help file from your VB source code and comments. An evaluation version can be downloaded from the Innovasys Web Site.

Just Great Software - Jan Goyvaerts' HelpScribble is mainly for Delphi and C++Builder developers, but can also be used as a standalone product for use by VB and VBA developers. Looking at some of the newsgroups, it seems to be a rather popular product.

K2 Information Systems - A HAT named George? Of course! George reads your C or C++ source code and builds documents to your exact requirements. To get you started, K2 includes default configurations for producing HTML, HTML Help, WinHelp, or hard copy manuals. However, if you have an existing documentation standard then the flexibility offered by George will almost certainly be able to meet your requirements

Live Linx - The Enterprise Publishing product family provides a full suite of solutions for efficiently publishing and maintaining large volumes of documentation on corporate intranet, Internet web site and/or CD.

MBSoftwares - Promoted as "the most complete help files creator", Help Studio 2000 creates help files for all Windows platforms. Beside create help files, Help Studio generate automatic the manual from the same source. Available in English, Portuguese, Spanish and French.

MellowSoft - HTML Helpy is an easy-to-use Help Authoring tool designed for programmers and non-programmers alike. This versatile tool allows you to create professional looking Windows Help files which can easily be destributed among your customers, users, friends or web visitors.

Micromason Systems, Inc. - Makers of PowerHelp - FoxPro Edition 2.0, an automated Help Writer for Visual FoxPro 3.0, 5.0, 6.0 and FoxPro for Windows 2.x. PowerHelp was created to enable a FoxPro developer to create a fully-functional, context-sensitive Help system and printed user manual.

Neco - Makers of the only other HTML Help ActiveX component that I'm aware of, HTMLHelpAPI.dll, which is written using ActiveX Template Library (ATL). There's a demo version available on the ComponentSource web site as well ... search on HTMLHelpAPI to find it.

Olson Software - Their HyperText Studio is a visual hyperText authoring package which makes it easy to create and manage Windows Help files, web sites and HTML Help files.

Optical Systems Corporation, Ltd. - Makers of AuthorIT (formerly AutoDoc). AuthorIT generates hard copy, Windows on-line Help, HTML Help, and HTML pages from a single source while still retaining the specific features and characteristics of each media.

SevenSteps -SevenSteps version 3.2 allows help authors to create WinHelp, HTML Help, and a very slick style of HTML-based help. The authoring tool itself breaks the process down into seven discrete steps within a unique app that appears to be HTML-based itself. The final product is Windows only, but it's quite nice and has great readability and usability. Looks as though the big names have some serious competition with this one.

SolutionSoft - Main product is HelpBreeze 2.0, the Word add-in I use for WinHelp development. They also make the HelpBreeze HTML Wizard, a product that integrates with HelpBreeze for creating HTML Help files.

Steema Software - Steema's TeeGofer specifically targets .NET component developers. Written wholly in C#, it allows for the automatic generation of HTML Help and MS Help 2.0 structures from the metadata for VS.NET assemblies. These structures and files can then be tweaked as necessary to create the completed Help files.

t3medien - The web site may be in German, but t3medien's SmartDoc is in English. Based on WebWorks Publisher and FrameScript, this help authoring tool produces HTML help, raw HTML and JavaHelp files from FrameMaker files.

Theta-Software - HelpTron is an exceptional HTML Help WYSIWYG development tool ... and there's no beating the price considering what's in there. This is one of the most complete UI's for help creation we've seen yet, taking everything that's needed and wrapping it in an environment that's a cross between Microsoft Word and VS.NET. And it even exports PDF's! HelpTron comes highly recommended.

ToolsFactory GMBH - Doc-o-matic generates documentation right from your source code, it understands naturally formed in-source comments. Using Doc-o-matic you can get rid of those tag-based approaches which make your source code ugly and hard-to-read.

Training & Documentation Solutions Ltd. - HelpLinker 2000 provides the fastest and easiest way to apply context-sensitive help to runtime applications. HelpLinker's innovative capturing technology allows you to capture any window or dialog box element in a runtime application, and link to it a WinHelp or HTML Help topic, created with any help authoring tool.

VirtualMedia - Makers of HDK (Hypertext Development Kit). This product is seldom heard of here in the United States, but with it having a long list of features, and having won numerous awards, it seems as though it's really something to look into. They also have the HDK-L listserv, mentioned above.

Visage Software - Windows Help Designer/HTML Edition is a specialized WYSIWYG environment for quickly and easily creating Microsoft HTML Help systems. With WHD for Microsoft HTML Help, you do not need to know anything about HTML Help to easily create Help systems in this new format. WHD for Microsoft HTML Help provides all the power to create sophisticated HTML Help systems for application Help. WHD for Microsoft HTML Help fully supports the complete array of HTML Help features and the compiled HTML Help format, allowing you to maximize all the power of the new HTML Help format and the HTML Help engine.

Visual Vision - iPer Hyper Publish Pro is an easy-to-use visual tool that manages both on-line (Internet pages, sites) and off-line (manuals, CDs, HTML Help, WinHelp) publishing of any kind, providing fully hyperlinked electronic documentation. In other words, Hyper Publish offers easily manageable linked text, and greatly simplifies the process of linking and indexing pages.

Visiomode - Visiomode Help! is a web-based Help system which doesn't require Java/Javascript or ActiveX.
Because it's based on PHP, it's a lightweight and cross-platform/cross-browser solution. You can either use your own PHP-enabled server or purchase hosting on Visiomode's own server.

VyperHelp - VyperHelp is a visual outliner and editor for creating online help for OS/2, WinHelp, and HTML systems. A command-line conversion program is included, which allows conversion to and from OS/2 help and WinHelp, and to HTML, HTMLHelp, and RTF printable output.

West Wind Technologies - Rick Strahl and his crew at West Wind have put together the West Wind HTML Help Builder. This is especially useful for building developer and class documentation, but with its visual editing features (the editing interface looks exactly like the HTML Help viewer) it works equally well for building end user documentation. Also features full COM interface for programmatic access to most functionality. Primarily developed for FoxPro developers, it works well for just about anyone.