Before I get into talking about Microsoft HTML Help or any alternatives, let me ask you something. Have you ever had the singularly frustrating experience of staring blankly at the Google homepage? You’re staring blankly because it occurs to you that you don’t even know what words to type.
Microsoft HTML Help…or Whatever
Microsoft HTML Help is one of those hard-to-google things, based on my observations. Or should I call it Microsoft Help? Or maybe “that thing when you hit F1 in Windows and a window pops up”? You get the idea.
I’ve seen people to struggle when it comes to articulating this concept. Beyond the word “help,” which resides at the center, the rest is a little mysterious. And by and large, the world doesn’t care to name it. They hit F1 or click for help, and, voilà, help appears in the form of a window. What’s to search?
But if you’re making a software product, you might think, “Hey, I want to make a ‘help’!” That’s when you’re going to start googling, and that’s when things get weird.
Let’s say you google “create a windows help.” You get an ad that you obviously skip, and then you have something about creating a help “project” and something about Microsoft HTML Help. But you don’t want to create a project or HTML — you want to create a Windows help thingy. The next link, “Create a Help Project (Windows),” sounds promising. But alas, it just describes things in vague terms, including “create a help project” as well as compiling and testing help…or something.
Ugh. This search and others like it invite frantic and frustrated clicking. And they do this because sources speaking to the problem assume that you already know how this help thing works.