Thursday, June 23, 2011

Better Online Help Links

I’ve been using Rick Strahl’s West Wind HTML Help Builder for more than a decade and still think it’s the best tool for creating help files. One of the many things I like about it is that in addition to creating a CHM file, it also generates files you can upload to a web site. For example, is the online version of the Stonefield Query end-user help. I didn’t have to do anything after generating my CHM other than uploading the files HTML Help Builder creates.

There are several reasons why we like having help available online:

  • Potential customers can review the complete help file before downloading the demo if they wish.
  • It’s fully indexed by Google, Bing, etc. so shows up in searches.
  • When someone asks a support question, rather than telling them to bring up the help file, open the “How To” heading, and find the “Configuring Stonefield Query” topic, we can send them a link directly to the online version: Configuring Stonefield Query.

However, one issue with the latter item is that a link like displays the help topic without the rest of the help system: no table of contents or search mechanism. I discovered today that if instead of specifying the page directly, you use it as a parameter for the index page, like, it displays the full help system with the desired page selected. Learn something new every day!

Thanks again, Rick, for a great tool that makes documentation almost fun to create! (I did say ALMOST; I’m not crazy!)

1 comment:

Prentiss said...


That is good to know and thanks for sharing. I too have been using Help Builder a long time and actually enjoy it. I agree, the product almost makes creating help files fun. It is a great product.