Help systems

 

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Actually this is more of a rant than an actual help topic.

 

I have been writing this help file for 30 years, and each time I get it "just right", the rug gets pulled out from underneath me.

 

Microsoft deprecated WinHelp in 2007, and no longer included it with the factory images of Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.

 

Yet, WinHelp is still freely available for download from Microsoft for Vista, Windows 7 and (surprisingly) Windows 8 for both 32- and 64- bit platforms.

 

However, starting with Windows 7, Winhelp has been crippled. WinHelp is now blocked from opening help files from an intranet.

 

HTML help is Microsoft's replacement for WinHelp. However, CHM files are similarly crippled. HTML help will only open CHM files on your PC, not on your intranet.

 

I have never understood this. An intranet is an internal network, so why in the world would it be considered a security risk to connect your PC to your own internal network?

 

For the solution, I had to go outside the Microsoft ecosystem. In order to get context aware help to work on an intranet, I am now using xChm. xChm is a free, open-source multi-platform replacement for HTML. xChm does not have the restrictions of HTML help. While it doesn't have all the bells and whistles, at least it will open a CHM help file stored on an intranet.

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