Re: summary WinHelp versus HTML help: which to use

Subject: Re: summary WinHelp versus HTML help: which to use
From: David Knopf <david -at- KNOPF -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 12:30:39 -0700

Brierley, Sean wrote the following in comparing WinHelp with HTML Help, a
little of which need some clarification:

| The many emails I received on the issue of which help to use can be
| summarized in three statements:
| 1. If you are using WinHelp and have no specific reason to switch, don't
| switch.

Good advice. I agree.

| 2. HTML help is not a mature product yet, give it more time.

True. (Of course, you could also argue that WinHelp is not a mature product
yet, but in this case giving it more time probably won't help!)

| 3. Microsoft's HTMLhelp is the best choice because the deliverable is one
| file, a CHM file, that is usually smaller than the WinHelp HLP file.
| Non-Microsoft HTML-based help comprises many, many separate topic
| HTML pages
| and separate graphics.

HTML Help is not the only technology that offers this. With JavaHelp, you
can also create a single, compressed file for distribution. With JavaHelp,
this is a JAR (Java ARchive) file. JavaHelp 1.0 has just recently been
released, and yes, it too is not yet a mature product.

| The HTMLhelp CHM requires certain (unspecified)
| elements of Internet Explorer be installed. I.E. need not be the default
| browser, however.

HTML Help requires more than just components of IE. It also requires the
HTML Help specific components, which are not part of IE 4. These must be
separately distributed and installed. The HTML Help components are included
in IE 5 and with Win 98.

| I think I'll shoot for Microsoft's HTMLhelp over WinHelp or non-MS
| HTML-based online help, management permitting <g>.
| My other reasons are: Microsoft has renounced support for WinHelp
| though no
| plans for discontinuing shipping the WinHelp exe are published.

Neither WinHelp nor HTML Help is supported; that is, there is no one at
Microsoft you can call for support on either of these technologies.
Development continues on HTML Help, while development has stopped on
WinHelp. Microsoft will continue to ship the WinHelp viewer with Windows for
years to come.

| I like the
| fact that I can ship a single, compiled, HTML help file. I am tired of
| WinHelp. I want to learn HTML-based help. I prefer to make my software
| product seem more cutting-edge by including HTML help. My target audience,
| by requirement, is running Windows 9x or NT4+; cross-platform issues are
| non-existent.

Depends what you mean by cross-platform! ;) Getting your HTML Help system to
run correctly will vary from Win 95 to Win 98 to Win NT and depending on
which version (if any) of IE is installed on the user's PC.

| I do have the option of requiring my audience to
| use Internet
| Explorer but this is not necessary since the required components
| are part of
| the OS.

The HTML Help components are not a part of Windows 95 or Windows NT 4, nor
are they a part of IE 4. They are included in Win 98 and IE 5, but these
components may be updated independent of OS releases.

Have fun!

David Knopf
Knopf Online
Tel: 415-820-2356
E-mail: mailto:david -at- knopf -dot- com

RoboHELP Certified Trainer & Consultant
WebWorks Publisher Certified Trainer

Hands-on RoboHELP training classes
every month in Chicago, Dallas & San Francisco

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