Viewing Web HTML Output Locally

Help Builder creates Web ready static HTML content when you Build Output. It effectively creates a Web ready, static Web site that you can simply copy to a Web Server and host immediately, providing a interactive site with a rich table of contents, search and quick dynamic topic navigation of the Help content.

Viewing the Web Project Requires a Web Server

However, in order to view the help project even locally you need to use a Web server. Local preview by loading index.htm from disk unfortunately does not work as the table of contents and topic navigation dynamically load content via scripted code, which does not work through local file URLs.

You cannot preview your project from disk files - you need a Web Server to preview your Web Project in a browser.

Note that local preview of individual topics works just fine. It's just viewing of the entire project with its table of contents, search and dynamic topic loading has to run through a Web server.

Build Output And Local Web Preview

The most reliable way to preview your generated Web output is to:

  • Build your Project with Build Output
  • Choose Local Web Preview to browse the Site

This option starts Help Builder's built-in Web Server, points its root folder at the Web project's path, and starts up a Web Browser. By default the URL is:

http://localhost:64101

Port 64101 is a special port that is configured during Help Builder setup. You can change the port, but you may have to run as Administrator once to initialize the port so it can be used locally.

Use Tools->Open Html Project in Web Browser

Once you've built the help file at least once you can also preview your Help project using Tools->Open HTML Project in Web Browser. This option is useful if you are making changes to existing topics. As topics are saved the HTML files are updated and you can preview the project with these updates.

However, if you add new topics or change the structure of your Help structure the table of contents may have to be re-generated with a full Build Output pass.

Use HelpBuilderConsole.exe WEBSERVER

HelpBuilder includes a command line Console you can use for a number of administrative tasks and one option of the console is to start a Web Server in a specific path you specify. This allows you to copy the output files to a new self-contained location and test the output in this new location.

To do this:

  • Start a Powershell or Command Terminal
  • Make sur that the Help Builder Install folder is in your Path
  • Or change your path to the Help Builder Install folder

Help Builder by default adds Help Builder into the user path so HelpBuilderConsole.exe and wwhelp.exe should always be available.

With the Help Builder install path in your path you can now do (all one line):

HelpBuilderConsole WEBSERVER 
    -p "c:\Projects\HelpBuilder\MyProject"

This will use the default Help Builder Web port of 64101. If you want to use a different port you can explicitly specify a port (all one line):

HelpBuilderConsole WEBSERVER   
     -p "c:\Projects\HelpBuilder\MyProject"   
     -port 64100

Port Configuration May Be Required

When using a custom port other than the default 64101, in order for Windows to allow access to a local port you may have to run the tool once as Administrator. HelpBuilderConsole.exe automatically registers the port, but this can only be done under an Administrator account. The default port is configured during Help Builder installation, so that should always work. Unless you have a pressing need to use a different port, it's best to stick with the default port by not providing one on the command line.


© West Wind Techologies, 1996-2020 • Updated: 3/22/2019
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