Re: HTML-based Help?

Subject: Re: HTML-based Help?
From: Melanie Futrell/FASTTAX <Melanie_Futrell -at- CLR -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 1997 08:27:14 EDT

You wrote
Does anyone know of a tool that you can use to create context-sensitive,
HTML-based online help that is *not* browser dependent?

I've been reading up on NetHelp, but I'd like to find something similar that
doesn't require the user to have a particular kind of browser on their system.

molly_hovorka -at- cybercash -dot- com
Hi Molly,

We are working on developing HTML-based help right now. We are still pretty
much in the research and protoyping stage, but I think that the answer to your
question is "no--at least not right now". In order for your help to be
context-sensitive, your application will have to make some sort of API call,
and as I understand it, there is no way to make the call browser independent.
Or rather, there is no way to make the call independent in such a way that you
will have control over window size and position, which I would think you would
want to do for context-sensitive help. I think that a generic API call can be
made that will launch whatever default browser the user has specified, but it
will launch the entire browser in a full window.

We are using RoboHELP 4.0 right now, which supports both specs. We are pleased
with the results that we have seen for Microsoft's HTMLHelp -- it converts
32-bit RTF-based help rather seamlessly. The only serious problems that we seem
to be having with the limitations of HTML Help itself, which is to be expected
as it is in its infancy (or at least, early childhood).

I am not aware of Netscape's developments (we are producing HTMLHelp for IE),
but context-sensitivity cannot be implemented for Microsoft until the next
release of the HTMLHelp Development Workshop which is *scheduled* for later
this week. We have chosen Microsoft because our users are required to be on
either NT or 95, so they will more than likely have IE installed. If not, the
mini-browser window viewer (as I understand it) will be freely redistributable,
so we can include it as an option with our install.

I still have a lot more research to do, but I hope this helps you out a little.
You might check the following sites for more information (it is by no means a
comprehensive list, but I've found a lot of information through these sites):
Microsoft ,s Page -
Press Release -
Joe Welinkske ,s article -
Cheryl Lockett Zubak ,s interview with Ralph Walden -
More info from Microsoft -
Mary Deaton ,s Homepage -
Cheryl Lockett Zubak ,s column on Microsoft HTML -
Blue Sky Software's HTML Help Home page:

Melanie Futrell

Melanie Paschetag Futrell
Sr. Documentation Analyst
Computer Language Reseach, Inc.
Melanie_Futrell -at- clr -dot- com

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