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Teucer's Quiver Me && .net

I have been spending time working on this Smart Client application and we are running a successfull pilot implementation of the same. Smart Client applications being client side winform application hence its more or less mandated that the usability and UX guidelines set by Microsoft be adhered. After all “Standards” are a good thing :). And frankly after Asp.net became popular (I still love that technology) lots of people left writing or looking seriously at writing windows applications (please dont get me wrong)

I recommend reading “The Windows Interface Guidelines for Software Design” from Microsoft Press for understanding the details about user interface guidelines.

One of those UX guidelines is that a good windows application would be providing help / documentation which will aid the user to work with the application at ease. I until date didnt know that .net has such support for help and documentation (please note I am not referring to source code documentation).

To cut a long story short about how happy I am to know the support for doing these things in .net. Please follow the following URLs.

System.Windows.Forms.Help Class
System.Windows.Forms.HelpProvider Class

[Update] - Check this HOWTO article at Support.microsoft.com - Provide Context-Sensitive Help or Online Help in a Windows Application by Using Visual Basic .NET

Posted on Friday, December 31, 2004 6:57 PM Technical | Back to top


Comments on this post: Providing Context Sensitive help for .net applications.

# re: Providing Context Sensitive help for .net applications.
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We offer a component to provide fully integrated, context-sensitive online help to ASP.NET web applications.
Left by Ollie Cornes on Jan 25, 2005 5:33 AM

# re: Providing Context Sensitive help for .net applications.
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is it not possible to use html help workshop to provide context sensitive help to asp.net web applications
Left by uma on Mar 09, 2005 11:48 PM

# re: Providing Context Sensitive help for .net applications.
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Thanks Ollie for the link :)

Whenever time permits I shall check your component.

Uma,
I havent worked with Html help workshop and the app we ship also does not provide context sensitive help but we sure are looking at it for a future release.
Left by Teucer on Mar 12, 2005 10:58 PM

# You have to be f#$@** kidding me, right?
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$2500 for a contextual help popup? Are the people at RicherComponents out of their f#$@#@ minds!!?? This is not a sophisticated piece of software, for the love of god, I can buy the entire suite of telerik r.a.d. controls (which I'm sorry to say are _FAR_ superior to RicherComponents) that give me unlimited distribution, PLUS 1 year of free upgrades for far less than 1/2 the cost of your one component (for which most equivalent components are offered for free all over the internet). What are you guys smoking over there, and where can I get some?
Left by Amazed. on Apr 15, 2005 8:36 AM

# re: Providing Context Sensitive help for .net applications.
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I'm in the same boat. We produce ASP.NET apps and I'd like to offer context sensitive help in the apps. Check out the RoboHelp tools from Macromedia. They are now also offering a RoboHelp Office Pro for .NET.
There is also an example of how to do context sensitive help using just the RoboHelp Basic package. For abou $1000 you get a help server, RoboHelp Studio and API for the programmers to add context sensitive help to their .NET apps. I'm going to be testing it in the coming weeks.
Left by Eugene K on Apr 20, 2005 8:12 PM

# re: Providing Context Sensitive help for .net applications.
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I am also trying to figure out how to provide context sensitive help in out .net apps. Is there any way I get a sample code in .net to see how this can be achieved.

Also can anybody tell me the why I should go for RoboHelp Office Pro for .NET when I can get the context sensitive help using the basic paskage.
Left by Indy on Feb 15, 2006 10:43 PM

# re: Providing Context Sensitive help for .net applications.
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I am a tech writer and I GET IT with the
System.Windows.Forms.Help Class
System.Windows.Forms.HelpProvider Class

I can actually enjoy designing how I want the help to look and to work. I thrill at providing developers with written functional specs and requirements that speak their language AND that give me what I asked for. These help classes do just that.

Microsoft, thank you (finally) for making the job easier.

RoboHelp, Schmobohelp. Writers, take a hint: none of the software mentioned heretofore to "do the trick" will not give you what you want unless you do some work and some skull sweat. I don't care how expensive it is; you could code a help system by hand and get better results if you are working with the developers. You gotta work with the developers for best results.

You should be working with them anyway. THEN YOU WOULD KNOW ABOUT THESE CLASSES. Duh.

And that is fun! It gives you some visibility, credibility, and VALUE to the company! And a whole new bunch of friends!

Tech writers need to stop being glorified secretaries and start being TEAM MEMBERS. Then they might learn the new technologies and get more respect.
Left by cb on Jun 06, 2006 4:46 PM

# re: Providing Context Sensitive help for .net applications.
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Check out HelpNDoc. It is ~$150 and it creates Microsoft HTML Help in an easy to use interface. You lose a little bit of flexibility on the look and feel but some (including me) feel it is worth it. They have a free trial version.

I have a question too, does anyone know how to call up a specific page in your .chm file using the anchors in the help file?
Left by Jeff cope on Jun 02, 2008 11:44 AM

# re: Providing Context Sensitive help for .net applications.
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seems like microsoft is dying. They would not correct bug i posted :) and they ommited that context help feature of HtmlHelp when they implemented System.Windows.Forms.Help class :)
and seems like this same Help class would not allow you to use anchors when specifying chm file, i.e you can't set HelpProvider.Helpnamespace or call Help.ShowHelp with blah.chm::/the_file.txt or blah.chm::blah.htm#topic_anchor, the URL goes through FileIOPermission() or the like and dies there, bwahahahahha, isn't microsoft dying? ppl even buy XP instead of Vista :)
Left by omg on Dec 03, 2008 12:17 AM

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