RoboAuthor, WinHelp, HtmlHelp, JavaHelp
With RoboAuthor you can create HTMLHELP (.CHM), WINHELP (.HLP), JAVAHELP and plain HTML for your website, from within a single source document.
You produce and maintain a single file, thus saving time.
As your manual / help document is a single file, and everything is integrated within a single tool, the creation process is very fast:
- "Insert >New page" for adding a new topic / new page (or CTRL +)
- "Insert >Link" for creating links between topics (you will choose pages from a visual preview)
- double click a link for browsing between pages while in editor mode
- use CTRL + and CTRL - to sequentially span between pages
- "Hypertext >Predefined page order - TOC" for creating Chapters and sub chapters
- "Hypertext >Keywords" for adding a keyword to the global keyword list (then you can assign some keywords for each page, with drag and drop from the global list)
- "Publish >Export WinHelp" and "Publish >Export HTML Help" for creating CHM or HLP files; "Publish >Export JavaHelp" for Java Help (more information below). You can also export to HTML for your Website.
- then you can call the Help file or a single topic from within your application / your programming language (the "Topic ID" is simply the page number (the number in the box at the bottom center; each programming language has its own standard, see below). Or, if you are creating a Web based helpfile, you just transfer the automatically generated "HTML" files to your Website.
Depending on the help file format that you need, RoboAuthor may require one or two external free programs. You don't need to learn how to use these programs (it may be quite complicated), you just need to install them and RoboAuthor will "talk with them".
For producing .HLP
WinHelp files (the classic Windows help format) you need the free MS Help compiler (click here to download and save somewhere
- hcw403.exe; 521K - once downloaded, double click on its icon to install).
For creating .CHM
HtmlHelp (the new Microsoft Help file format intended to replace WinHelp since Windows 98) you need the free Microsoft HTML Help Workshop (click here to download, and save somewhere
- htmlhelp.exe; 3426K - once downloaded, double click on its icon to install).
For JavaHelp, all files are automatically created. You may need/want to edit the text files TOC.xml Index.xml Map.jhm with a text editor (such as the MS Windows internal Notepad).
If a link is broken, please see the Microsoft Web site and use the search feature, unfortunately Microsoft does change the download links very often. In any case both files are provided within the CD edition and/or supplied to the regular users on request.
To create a JavaHelp file set, choose “File >Export pages...”, then “Html for JavaHelp” as format. RoboAuthor exports, then it does automatically show the export folder that contains all the files needed for a JavaHelp (you may pack these files into a .zip or a .jar file). You may need/want to edit the text files TOC.xml Index.xml Map.jhm with a text editor (such as the MS Windows internal Notepad).
Remember to use the RoboAuthor menu "Hypertext >Predefined page order - TOC" in order to create / design the table of contents / TOC.
To create a WinHelp (HLP) file, choose “File >Export pages...”, then “Rtf WINHELP (WinHelp Compiler): one file only” as format. RoboAuthor exports, then it does automatically start the MS Help Compiler (if this is properly installed).
At the end of the compilation process, you will obtain a .hlp file that you can deploy with your application.
To obtain a HtmlHelp (CHM) file, choose “File >Export pages...”, then “Html for HtmlHelp (HtmlHelp Compiler)” as format. RoboAuthor will start the Microsoft HTMLHelp Workshop and you need to manually press the "Compile" button. You may also manually start the MSHH Workshop then click on the .HHP file (i.e. your main file is mickey.aeh, the main HtmlHelp project file will be mickey.hhp).
At the end of the compilation process, you will obtain a .chm file that you can deploy with your application.
For both HLP and CHM, links and keywords are defined the same within RoboAuthor. Within RoboAutor you can also define the table of contents with “Hypertext >Predefined page order - TOC”, and the keywords with "Hypertext >Keywords". Please note that WinHelp’s capabilities are limited, so you will not see frames, nor animated images and other advanced functions. Please notice that in order to display the chm file, the end user's PC needs MS Internet Explorer 3, 4 or 5 (IE). So if you are not sure your final users/customers have IE, you must distribute it with your application. In addition, you also need to deploy the file hhupd.exe (click here to download)
Integrating Help documentation into your software application - Context sensitive help
How to integrate Winhelp or HtmlHelp into your software application? It depends on the development tool / programming language you use. C++ MFC, Delphi, Visual Basic, Visual C, Borland C++ Builder, Java, even Microsoft Access, Visual Objects, Clarion, APL, Visual FoxPro are some programming tools used by our customers.
You can use both .HLP and .CHM for context sensitive Help, this is fine for almost any programming language. The Context-ID (or Topic ID) for each page is simply the page number (the one you see in the box at the bottom center).
C++ / MFC
Connecting WinHelp to C++/MFC Applications (PDF document)
Connecting HTML HELP to C++/MFC Applications (PDF document)
© Don Lammers, Shadow Mountain Tech
The most recent Delphi edition does natively support both .HLP and .CHM, with context sensitive features. Please see the development tool manual!
For Delphi 3/5 HLP is fine, for CHM you can download this unit (click here
), and add it to the “uses” section. Then use “Project >Options” to assign the name of your .CHM file as Help File name. Then insert the page number you want to call in the “HelpContext” section of each control (as you did for WinHelp).
Visual Basic / VB
© Dave Liske, Help Technology Center
Microsoft knowledge base article Q185498 about implementing HtmlHelp within Visual Fox PRO
You will find a lot of information from the Sun Website,
and also on
Distribute your documentation as self-extracting .exe file / ebook
You may also use the RoboAuthor native format (.AEH) to supply a self-extracting/self-installing .EXE help file to your users, please see EBooksWriter, www.ebookswriter.com
It is very handy to distribute documentation as .EXE ebook. Some benefits are: wide protection features; no external programs needed; automatic full text search engine;
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