Re: I'm sticking with WinHelp (was Re: WinHelp on Vista - a

Subject: Re: I'm sticking with WinHelp (was Re: WinHelp on Vista - a
From: "Char James-Tanny" <charjtf -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Sun, 24 Sep 2006 08:41:40 -0400

Forcing software vendors or users to just accept that there would be no
backward compatability is a common practice with Microsoft. We are
locked-in to whatever they decide and I think it is about time that we
developed an open source, standards-based help viewer system under
GNU-GPL. I think we need to end, once and for all, the domination
of one company over the help viewer market.

For the longest time, Microsoft always maintained backward
compatibility with all of its applications. I found an article called
"The Price of Compatibility?" (which, unfortunately, seems to have
disappeared from the Web...but if you google, you should be able to
find the cached version). In it, Joe Wilcox wrote:

In "Why Worms Shun Apple's OS X," [Business Week tech columnist
Stephen Wildstrom ] writes: "OS X offers inherently better security
for several reasons. The most important is that it was designed with
relatively little concern for compatibility with earlier versions,
while Windows is full of compromises so that it works with older and
less secure operating systems. Microsoft's concern with compatibility,
which largely reflects the demands of corporate customers, has
resulted in old flaws being carried forward."

"Stephen makes exactly the right point. Microsoft made compromises for
the sake of backward compatibility that increased the Windows
security-vulnerability footprint. Apple chose a different approach to
backward compatibility, of running older applications in a special
"Classic" mode that from a security perspective acted as kind of a
clean room separate from Mac OS X."

For another perspective, read Dries Buytaert's (lead of the Drupal
project) article about backward compatibility (wrt Drupal) at Dries is very clear: what
matters is what's best for Drupal. He chose not to preserve backward
compatibility because he was more interested in getting the technology
correct. "Preserving backward compatibility often requires that you
drag historical baggage along..."

He also says, "Unfortunately, there is no right or wrong answer here:
there are both advantages and disadvantages to backward compatibility.
As a result, there will always be a tension between the need for
hassle-free upgrades and the desire to have fast, cruft-free code with
clean and flexible APIs. At the end of the day, we can't make
everybody happy and it is very important that you realize that."

If it's Microsoft's domination of the market that is the problem, then
other options are available: FlashHelp (from RoboHelp HTML), JavaHelp,
Oracle Help, browser-based Help.

But what I don't understand is, how will a new Help system or viewer
solve the dilemma of legacy WinHelp files?

Char James-Tanny ~ JTF Associates, Inc. ~
Please send follow-up questions to the list.
Contact me directly (CharJT at helpstuff dot com) with business inquiries.
2005-2006 Microsoft Help MVP ~ MSHelpWiki
AuthorIT Certified Consultant, Development, and Training
Moderator, HATT and MSHelp2
STC Secretary, 2006-2008
STC Online Information SIG: Online Help Lead
Web site Hosting and Design ~

WebWorks ePublisher Pro for Word features support for every major Help format plus PDF, HTML and more. Flexible, precise, and efficient content delivery. Try it today!

Easily create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to any popular Help file format or printed documentation. Learn more at

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RE: I'm sticking with WinHelp (was Re: WinHelp on Vista - a: From: Mike Hamilton
Re: I'm sticking with WinHelp (was Re: WinHelp on Vista - a: From: Sean Wheller

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