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It's Not Just Help. . .

So How Does It Work?

HTML Topics & Templates


Project File (.hhp)

Contents File (.hhc)

Merging Modular Files

Accelerating Links

Distribution & Installation

HTML Help Resources on the Web

Bringing It Together:
HTML Topics & Templates

HTML topics and templates comprise both the beginning and the end of the main writing process. This chapter explains how to create the content of your HTML Help system, building templates for the elements you think you’ll need, adding content to create individual topics, and then refining the templates before creating more topics. In between, you’ll add in your style sheets and script files (which may also be continually refined).

HTML is, of course, the basic language of HTML Help systems. While this chapter does not constitute a complete course in writing HTML, it does include many of the basic tags and HTML coding required to create HTML Help files and templates. Much of this material can be used in a “cookbook” fashion by simply copying the code and changing the content to suit your own needs. If you have any background at all in HTML or coding, you should be able to use this chapter to create all the files necessary for an HTML Help system.

Templates, in the sense used here, are exemplary HTML files that combine reusable elements (graphics, CSS, DHTML) with boilerplate text for common tasks and placeholders for text and graphics that changes in substance but not in style. Rapid development can occur once the templates are complete and the application is ready for documentation: simply open the appropriate template, save it under another name, and make edits as necessary to reflect the individual concepts and procedures for that topic. (More complex templates are possible in some of the available third-party HTML tools.)