Adding HTML Help

We’re all familiar with HTML Help for applications – usually in the form of .chm files (with the yellow question-mark icon). Typically, constructing these this involves getting to grips with the Microsoft HTML Help Workshop. This includes a tool for building Help projects, and compiling them into .chm files.

This is okay for fine-grained context-sensitive Help, at the level of individual operations and controls. However, if the material is more in the nature of a User Manual, this is probably not the form in which we want to author it. And we will probably want to generate different forms of output, such as general HTML pages and PDF.

A few posts ago, I mentioned producing documentation using the XML-based DITA framework. One of the benefits of this is that content is held in a generic XML-based format, from which outputs of different types can be generated: XHTML, PDF and CHM (and also Java Help). DITA allows us to select and combine various topics (chunks of content) from our User Manual – perhaps the lower-level task or reference topics – and compile these into a .chm file. Apart from the compiler, which is invoked automatically, this does not involve the HTML Help Workshop.

Note on tools: There is a DITA Open Toolkit, but I have been using tools from XMLMind – the free XML Editor (Personal Edition) and the open-source DITA Converter. And very good they are too.

The selection, structuring and ordering of topics is done using a DITA Map file. HTML Help is specified as the output format via options to the DITA Converter.

Having got our .chm file, the next step is to access it from a VBA project. I’d been vaguely aware that you could do this, but had never investigated further. More tomorrow…


2 Responses to “Adding HTML Help”

  1. 1 relationship counseling September 22, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    whoah this weblog is wonderful i love studying your posts. Stay up the good work!
    You know, a lot of individuals are searching round for this information, you can help them greatly.

  1. 1 Adding HTML Help – 2 « Roy MacLean’s VBA Blog Trackback on October 23, 2009 at 4:22 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

October 2009
« Sep   Nov »

%d bloggers like this: