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Two Types of Help Files

We live in exciting times, especially those of us who work with Help files on Windows operating systems. Microsoft is in the midst of a transition between its older Help file format, WinHelp, and its Help file format of the future, HTML Help.

HTML Help Files

HTML Help is a newer format that Microsoft now uses as its standard Help file format. Figure 7.1 shows an example of an HTML Help file displayed on a user's screen. HTML Help files have a chm extension. In order to display HTML Help files on a user's system, the user's system must be set up properly with the correct Registry entries and support files.

An HTML Help screen as seen by an end user.
FIGURE 7.1 An HTML Help screen as seen by an end user.

We discuss the creation of HTML Help files in this chapter under the section entitled "Creating HTML Help" as the objective.

WinHelp Files

WinHelp is Microsoft's older Help file format. Figure 7.2 shows an example of an HTML Help file as displayed on a user's screen.

WinHelp files have an hlp extension. In order to display WinHelp files on a user's system, the WinHelp engine, Winhlp32.exe, must reside on the user's system.


FIGURE 7.2 A WinHelp screen as seen by an end user.

In order to create WinHelp files, a developer must know how to use Microsoft's Help Compiler program, hc.exe, to create compiled .hlp files. Before compiling the .hlp file, the developer must create one or more special .rtf-format files containing specific tags and formatting, as well as a text file with extension .hpj, that serves as a header file or the Help project.

By all appearances, Microsoft intends that WinHelp files fade from the scene.


  

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