Re: Recommendation for Help System for Add-in to MS Word

Subject: Re: Recommendation for Help System for Add-in to MS Word
From: Jonathan West <jwest -at- mvps -dot- org>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Sun, 3 May 2009 13:30:02 +0100

2009/4/25 TECHWR-L Administrator <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>:
> Forwarded anonymously on request: Please respond on list. Thanks. Eric
> &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&
> We have a Word add-in that works with Word 2003 and Word 2007 on XP and
> Vista.  We expect to support it also on Win7.  We would like help on our
> product to come up when a user presses F1 to summon on-line help.

That's easy. Your add-in must contain a macro that displays the help
file, and you must configure the add-in so that the macro is attached
to the F1 key.

If the add-in as a Word add-in (a .dot or .dotm file located in the
startup folder) then the macro can be written in VBA and it is a very
simple matter to open any arbitrary file using its default
application. There is a code sample here that shows you how to do it.

Also, for a Word add-in, it is a simple matter of using the Customize
dialog to set the shortcut. For a COM add-in this is all a bit more

However, whether you *should* hijack the F1 key for your own purposes
in this way is another question altogether. People are used to the F1
key bringing up Word's help, and users may complain at that simple
route to Word's help being closed off from them.

> We request a recommendation about a Help Authoring Tool to use to
> create the
> on-line help.

Impossible to make any firm recommendation without knowing more about
the complexity of the features and the extent of the Help.

> Moreover, we'd like to know which help format should be used. It's not
> clear from researching on the MSDN site.
> Ideas?

HTML Help is the kind being pushed by Microsoft these days. Most help
authoring tools will produce HTML Help as an output format. But you
aren't limited to that. You could for instance use a PDF file with
bookmarks and hyperlinks. Again, it depends on what you are trying to
achieve with the help, and you haven't stated that.

Jonathan West

ComponentOne Doc-To-Help 2009 is your all-in-one authoring and publishing
solution. Author in Doc-To-Help's XML-based editor, Microsoft Word or
HTML and publish to the Web, Help systems or printed manuals.

Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual
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