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I’ve written many Microsoft HTML help files in my career. One difficulty I had now and then had nothing to do with writing the help file topics and compiling the .CHM file itself but with having the file attached to the application. Especially with context-sensitive help files the occasional delays in finishing the project seemed puzzling to me. Despite the fact that I provided a clear list of MAP IDs assigned to each individual help topic, sometimes the task took a lot longer than I expected to complete.
I think I have a clue now why that could have been so. Perhaps the developer in charge did not really know how to attach an HTML help file to an application in a way that would pop open its own HTML window and display the help topic in the intended way — that is, display the main Introduction topic first or jump directly to the context-sensitive topic in question, or to the topic corresponding to the searched keyword, etc.
Now Colum McAndrew, a Technical Author working in Guildford, UK and a Microsoft HTML expert, made it easy to understand how to do precisely that. Colum did eliminate my cobwebs regarding the topic and that’s what I wanted share with you today.
If you’d like to learn the Microsoft HTML Help API commands that make a help (.CHM) file work the way it’s supposed work when attached to an application read his short but very informative article here. You’ll wonder how you did it this far as a help writer without knowing the details of these API commands. If you share this with your developer, he or she might be grateful as well. Thanks Colum! I appreciate your good work.
Microsoft HTML Help Site