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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

Making It Happen:
Distribution & Installation

Even after the Help author has completely finished the HTML Help system itself, there are a few elements that must be in place on the usersí systems. While Microsoft Windows automatically includes the components required to display Windows Help, Windows versions prior to 2000 require a few additional components before they can display HTML Help.

First, users must have Internet Explorer 3.02 or higher installed on their system. IE 3.x and above supplies shdocvw.dll, which works with HTML Help components to display the topics in their windows. If the HTML Help system uses DHTML, users need IE 4.x or higher to access the dynamic content. Internet Explorer need not be the default browser on their system; in fact, they need never use IE itself as a Web browser but only have its components available for the HTML Help Viewer.

Second, in addition to Internet Explorer, these users must have four core HTML Help-specific files installed and registered (plus files for language support, if necessary). The HTML Help-specific files include an executable program as well as the ActiveX control that the executable calls to open the .chm and provide navigational facilities. Two additional dynamic link libraries (DLLs) provide the functionality required for the compiled HTML Help format and for search capabilities.

These issues do not arise on Windows 2000 systems, where the operating system installation includes the core IE components and the required HTML Help elements in support of their own internal help systems. (Windows 2000ís method of automatically installing Internet Explorer and HTML Help 1.3x brings up a new set of challenges, as described at the end of this chapter)