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helpstuff blog - Guest blogger Dana Worley talks about Vista and WinHelp...

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Post details: Guest blogger Dana Worley talks about Vista and WinHelp...

02/15/07

Permalink 06:19:39 pm, Categories: User Assistance, 390 words   English (US)

Guest blogger Dana Worley talks about Vista and WinHelp...

Please welcome guest blogger Dana Worley. Dana, a fellow Microsoft Help MVP, is the Software Product Manager at Campbell Scientific. She will present Migrating from WinHelp to HTML Help with Doc-to-Help at the WritersUA Conference in Long Beach.

In today's blog, Dana talks about some of the her experiences when using WinHelp on Vista.

*

In late December, the Microsoft Help MVPs were given the WinHlp32.exe beta by Microsoft. This executable will ultimately be the file that Vista users download to run 32-bit HLP files on Microsoft’s newest OS.

While my testing was by no means exhaustive, all-in-all I found very few problems. Some of the results of my tests follow. The software applications I tested were coded in Visual Basic and Delphi.

  • The Table of Contents, Index, and Search all work normally.
  • No problems with calls from the applications to the help, including context sensitive popups.
  • Jumps to topics in secondary windows display as expected.
  • No problems founds with mid-topic jumps.
  • Macros such as Next(), Print(), and Close() work as expected.
  • ExecFile macros (which I use for mailto and www links) do not execute. There is no message indicating a failure. Failure of these macros is not unexpected, since MS has really tried to step up its security efforts with the Vista operating system.
  • With jumps from one HLP file to another, the behavior depends upon the location of the two help files. If they reside in the same directory, the jumps are successful. However, if the two help files reside in different directories, the user is prompted to search for the second file. The location of a “searched for” file is not written to the registry and, therefore, not stored for future help sessions.

Note that the 16-bit virtual environment (NTVDM) that shipped with Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Windows XP is still available in Windows Vista. Thus, for 16-bit help files, which use WinHelp.exe, there should be no difference in performance (and, no need to download a new help engine). But, we all dumped these a long time ago, right? :-)

While all of this looks promising, I still encourage you to make the transition to CHM or some other form of help as your company releases updates to its applications. Many help development tools provide quick and almost painless ways to import your legacy WinHelp projects.

Comments:

Comment from: techcommdood [Member]
Thanks Dana! Sounds like good news for those who haven't yet migrated. How big is the download for WinHlp32.exe? And is the install straightforward? Just curious, since end users will need to download and deploy this themselves. Fortunately I caught wind of the potential WinHelp issue in Vista a few years ago and we're all migrated up to CHM and other formats... But it's good to hear that 32-bit WinHelp will be mostly functional under Vista, and that 16-bit will still work without needing to download the viewer.
Permalink 02/20/07 @ 10:10
Comment from: techcommdood [Member]
Wow, it's quiet in here.
Permalink 02/20/07 @ 16:41
Comment from: dana@campbellsci.com [Member]
The beta installation was a standalone. I haven't seen the final product, so it's not a question I can answer. :)
Permalink 02/20/07 @ 19:03

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