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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

Navigating the Waters:
Table of Contents

The HTML Help table of contents (TOC) fills the Help Viewer’s navigation (left) pane with a collapsible tree presenting a hierarchical view of the topics contained in the Help system. In a modular HTML Help system, the table of contents can include references to topics in other modules of the system. When these modules are present, the topics appear in the contents; when the other modules are not present on the user’s system, the topics disappear from the contents, without any gap or other trace of their presence.

This apparently simple tree presents one of the most obvious usability advances over Windows Help—and one of the most challenging features to implement in HTML Help, especially in modular (merged) systems.

The usability advances come from HTML Help’s tripane window format, which keeps the table of contents onscreen and synchronized with the currently displayed topic, and avoids the problem of jumpint back and forth between navigation and contents windows that users encountered in Windows Help.

The challenges presented by the HTML Help table of contents arise from a variety of instabilities and unimplemented features in the Workshop’s tools for working with the table of contents. The Contents pane has a number of video refresh bugs, and neither information types nor custom icon sets are implemented as of version 1.3 of the HTML Help Workshop. Fortunately, there are workarounds for the bugs; but the unimplemented features remain a promise for the future.