Web Ready HTML Output

Help Builder always generates HTML output when building a Help File as the HTML is used as the basis for all output generated. To generate HTML output only use the Build Help dialog and make sure the Create Html option is enabled.

The output generated can be viewed locally or uploaded to a Web site manually or by using Help Builder's build in project FTP Upload feature. In both cases the output can be displayed by accessing the index.htm to view the content in a frames view that looks somewhat similar the CHM viewer. Here's the output as you would see it on the Web:

**Browser Compatibility:** Help Builder generates HTML 4 output, so a relatively recent browser is required. Older browser will still render the content but you will not get a collapsible tree. The HTML output option also uses JavaScript to expand and collapse sections of the content view and to show related topic contents. These features will not work if Active Scripting is disabled in Internet Explorer.

[](Moving the Web output)

The output generates an Html files for each topic with a name of the Topic Id and an HTM extension. Typical topics look like this: _0G12T9R11.htm. All generated topics start with an underscore.

The files are generated in the root of the project along with the CHM or Word document output. If you were to manually copy the project you'd want to copy:

  • All the _*.htm files
  • index*.htm
  • The Images directory (your images)
  • The Html directory (if you have any embedded HTM pages)
  • The Templates directory (you only need the wwhelp.css file out of it)
  • The BMP directory (contains the various topic type icons)
  • Search.aspx for Web based search (optional - requires ASP.NET)

Note that the project root contains other files as well. Since some of these - like the project file and the CHM file can be quite large you typically don't want to copy or upload those to a server.

To make this process easier Help Builder provides an FTP Upload option:

[](Generating a Search Page)

When you generate output for the Web you can optionally generate a search page. If you look at the screen shot above you'll notice that there are Search and Keywords list shown below the contents page. These options are only available when running on the Web and not on local content. This feature is an option that needs to be enabled when you Build the help file:

Notice the Add Search button on the Web option, which enables those buttons below the title. This option requires that ASP.NET is installed and active on the server. The option enables generating the extra links and also causes a Search.aspx page to be added to your help project. When viewing the help project locally in HTML format this option is not available because it requires ASP.NET and a Web Server to operate. Here's what the Search page with a search result looks like:

This option requires:

  • ASP.NET is installed and enabled on the Web Server
  • The directory must be configured to allow ASP.NET to run
  • The directory you are using allows the ASP.NET account READ access so it can search the help content To register ASP.NET on the Web Server the .NET Framework must be installed. You can run ASPNET_REGIIS.EXE in the .NET framework directory to enable ASP.NET on either.

The Search functionality is driven through the Search.aspx page which contains the search logic. This page is stored in the Templates directory and then moved into main directory. Once there the file stays there and is not touched again.

You can customize the search page as you see fit both from a design view as well as from the search logic which is rather simplistic.

[](Showing a specific topic in Frames View)

When putting Help on the Web it's often quite useful to point customers at a specific help topic in your help file. Help Topics can be easiliy linked like this:

http://www.west-wind.com/westwindwebstore/docs/_1150ZAC38.htm

This links to an individual topic. However, in most situations you probably want to link to the help file in the full frames view which you can do with:

http://www.west-wind.com/westwindwebstore/docs/index.htm

You can also display a specific topic, but also display it in Frames view and show the topic in the Content view at the same time:

http://www.west-wind.com/westwindwebstore/docs/index.htm?page=_1150ZAC38.htm

The above selects the topic by topic id. You can also access a topic by topic text:

http://www.west-wind.com/westwindwebstore/docs/index.htm?topic=Step 1 - Create SQL Server Database

This gives you the best of both worlds - topic only, or a context sensitive view of the whole help document with the active topic pre-selected in the tree.

See also

Building Output | Linking to Web based HTML Help Content

© West Wind Techologies, 2018 • Updated: 12/21/15
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