Help systems are made up of different components that vary according to the Help format you deliver.
RoboHelp HTML creates a main project file (with the extension .xpj) that contains the information about your topics, images, and other files. (Open this file to open a project.) Project files also contain the settings that affect the appearance and functionality of a Help system.
The basic unit of a Help system is the topic. Topics communicate the message of the Help system, mainly through text and images. You decide the content, format, and organization of your topics.
Table of contents
If a table of contents is included, users see a Contents tab or button when they open the Help system. The table of contents presents a hierarchical outline of what the Help project contains. Users can browse and select topics to view from the Contents tab.
If an index is included, users see an Index tab or button when they open the Help system. The index displays a multilevel list of topics and keywords or phrases that you’ve specified.
Full-text search allows users to find specific words and phrases that occur in the content.
Links and navigation
Users navigate a Help system by clicking links. You design the strategy that connects your topics together. The most common links are from one topic to another. Links can also go to topics in different Help systems, different output formats, and even to a website or an application.
You format topics using styles. Styles are named formats that you design and apply to control the layout and appearance of text.
Image and multimedia files
Images and multimedia files enhance Help by adding graphics, sound, video, animation, and more.
Windows are the frames that display topics. In certain output formats, you can customize the appearance and attributes of windows. You can also design new windows to suit your content. You can open multiple windows and from the Windows dialog box, select a window and click Activate to bring it to focus. Click Save to save the displayed window in focus. Using the Windows feature, you can rename the project title to display in the output.
The Help compiler isn’t part of the final Help file, but you sometimes need a compiler to create the Help file. For example, in Microsoft HTML Help projects, the compiler aggregates the source files and other project components. The compiler then creates one Help system file that you distribute to end users. (WebHelp and FlashHelp projects are not compiled.)
Viewers and browsers
Users access the Help system from within a viewer or browser.