Apologies if I'm posting this in the wrong place; I know we're changing the name/scope of this group, but I can't remember if the new discussion group is up and running yet, so...if anyone wants to re-post this for me or tell me where to re-post it, I'll do so.
Our software group is looking into developing a user interface using MS Visual Studio, and we'd like to have integrated help with it. It will be installed on a customer's computer; no internet required, so online help is out of the question. We're aiming for Windows platforms only, and search capabilities are required (and we'd rather not code that ourselves). I'll state the obvious and say that we need a TOC. Context-sensitive help is a very nice to have (almost a requirement, but we're willing to let it go if it's too much work).
The obvious answer is MS HTML Help which creates a .chm file that can be installed with the software, but we have a few concerns: it has an outdated look that we can't change, and rumour has it that it's not being maintained by Microsoft any more, not since 2012.
Can anyone confirm that Microsoft is abandoning HTML Help? If so, is there a replacement from Microsoft, either available or coming soon? Can someone suggest an alternative help that meets our requirements? Does someone want to say something in support of using HTML Help?
Fei Min Lorente
We use webhelp, authoring with Adobe TCS4 (Frame 11 and RoboHelp 10). We're finally starting to get some decent results--while the two programs work well enough independently, the interface between them is problematic, particularly if you use conditional text.
In my company, we adopt the single sourcing one year ago. Frankly, we encounter many problems, such as the low image quality, the formatting issue after importing into RH from FM. For the heading, currently, we use numbering in the chapter title and 1st level section heading in FM and hide them up after importing into RH.
For integrating the help into the product, we appoint the topic file that the product accesses to open the whole help system. In other words, we just pass the output help system to developers for integration, and the build machine does not have the FM/RH installed.
We have a help template that contains the company information (e.g. logo, support info). So these info are included in each help topic.
Mary, thanks for the vote of confidence in HTML Help. And yes, it's always fun exploring new territory. :-)
We also use RoboHelp to create our help systems.
HTML Help has enabled us to create context-sensitive help that is searchable, and indexed. We also conditionalize content for reuse in our many different versions of similar software products. These are also stand-alone systems that do not rely on internet access.
In addition, use of interactive graphics in our help has increased its contextual responsiveness, beyond the standard. Regarding the out dated look, up-to-date graphics in the help content can go a long way toward addressing this.
We have not had any issues with non-support from Microsoft. Perhaps because it works well enough, no support issues have occurred.
Good luck, it sounds like a fun venture.
Adobe RoboHelp can create help system that can be integrated into the product. Also, you can choose some help topics for CSH. The help system is installed with the product, no need for internet. Our company product is not using MS Visual Stuido for user interface.
RoboHelp support multiple output format, including WebHelp and chm.
Besides, you can use Framemaker and RoboHelp for single sourcing. I guess you are known about it.
Hope this can be of any help.