Microsoft HTML Help layout


About Microsoft HTML Help

HTML uses tags to mark elements, such as text and graphics, in a document with display instruc­tions. HTML Help includes HTML documents (HTM files) for the topics, along with project source files. You use RoboHelp to add features such as links, a table of contents, an index, special effects, and related topics buttons.

You distribute a compressed file (CHM) to users that they view in the HTML Help viewer.

The main components of HTML Help include the following:

HTML Help ActiveX control

Supports navigation features such as the table of contents, index, and link controls (related topics and keyword links). It also supports HTML Help controls: WinHelp topic links, startup screens, and close window controls.

Layout engine

Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 and later supply the required components for HTML Help support.

HTML Help viewer

Displays compiled HTML Help (CHM file). It uses components of the Internet Explorer browser while displaying content in its proprietary window interface.

Compressed HTML

A collection of all files in the project in a single CHM file that occupies less disk space and is faster to load. You can ship this compiled file with an application or distribute it to users as a stand-alone online document.

Generating Microsoft HTML Help

The RoboHelp Help compiler processes all source files into a distributable format, which can then be tested or distributed.

You can generate the output at any stage in the project.

Compiler Messages

The compiler displays messages, statistics, and compiling errors during generation. If the compiler finds problems with the source files, error messages appear:


Conditions that probably do not cause a serious problem in the output. Note numbers range from 1000 through 2999.


Conditions that result in defective output. For example, if the compiler cannot locate an image, it displays a warning and continues generating. Warning numbers range from 3000 through 4999.


Conditions that stop the compiler. You can't generate the output until you correct the error. Error numbers range from 5000 through 6999.

Internal Errors

Errors caused by the HTML Help Workshop program. Internal error numbers are 7000 and greater.

Link TOC books or pages to custom windows (Microsoft HTML Help)

1)Right-click a topic in the TOC pod, select New > Book or Page, and click the Advanced tab.

2)Specify the options for displaying the TOC book or page:


Specify the custom window in which the topic is displayed.


Specify the frame in which the topic is displayed. Custom framesets appear in this list.


TOC comments are not visible to users.


Select custom icons for displaying the book or page in the TOC. Click the pop-up menu dropdown_arrow.png and press the Down Arrow key to move through the list of available icons. Select different icons for the closed book state and the open book state.

note:   Generate and view the Contents tab in the HTML Help viewer to display custom icons.

Mark As New

Displays a red star with the TOC book or page icon to indicate new items to end users. The standard icons look like the following:

bookstar.png New book

pagestar.png New page

Use Information Types

This option is only available when Book With Link is selected on the General tab. Select it to use a TOC book or page with information types.

Information Types

Click Add to select topics for the information type. Click Edit to change an information type, and click Remove to delete an information type.


Display book or page information types.

3)Click OK.

Extract CHM files

You can extract source files from a compiled Microsoft HTML Help file (CHM).

1)In the Toolbox pod, double-click HTML Help Studio.

2)Select File > Open, and then select a CHM file. Click Open.

3)Do either of the following:

To extract an individual file or folder, select it and click the Extract button toolsextract.png.

To extract all files, click the Extract button. Select All Files.

4)Specify a destination for Extract To.

Rename CHM files

The CHM filename is based on the project filename (.xpj).

1)In the Single Source Layouts pod, right-click HTML Help. Select Properties.

2)In Output Folder And Filename, type a name for the file, including the .chm extension.

3)Click Save.

The CHM file is renamed the next time you generate Help.

Find HTML Help files and components

1)In the Toolbox pod, double-click Find HTML Help Files or Find HTML Help Components.

2)Click Search.

tip:   To rearrange or resize columns, drag their headings or separator bars.

Replace CHM files

1)In the Toolbox pod, double-click HTML Help Registration.

The Name column lists CHM files that are currently registered on the authoring system.

2)Select the CHM file to replace.

3)Click Edit.

4)Click the browse button browsebut.png and navigate to the replacement CHM file.

5)Select the file, and click Open. Click OK.

note:   Replacing a CHM file does not affect how users view the Help project.

Register or unregister CHM files

Sometimes compiled Microsoft HTML Help files (CHM) are registered if they are used with appli­cations. You register CHM files on the authoring system. Registering the files doesn't affect how users view the Help project after it's distributed.

1)In the Toolbox pod, double-click HTML Help Registration.

To register a CHM file, click Register. Navigate to the CHM file, and click Open. Click OK.

To unregister a CHM file, select it and click Unregister. Click OK.

September 30, 2016

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