I was curious of what you all used for Help/Documentation?

I have always used chm files, but recently I found out that they do not work across network (intranet).  See http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=896054 for a work around.

I have been looking at http://www.helpscribble.com/winhelp.html now for documentation.

Anyways, back to my original question, what all do you guys/gals use for documentation?
Posted on 2005-10-04 19:30:31 by gorshing
Not only don't they work across network (UNC paths as well as mapped network drives), but they don't work in folders that contain the hash character (#) - probably related to how this char is used in anchors/links in HTML files. (Btw, thanks alot for that KB link, I was just discussing this issue with a friend earlier today :) )

I still prefer .chm for helpfiles. It's easy to create, it supports context-sensitive help, the hh.exe (well, IE control) is fast, and it doesn't clutter up your drive like .html files would for a large documentation project. Furthermore, unlike PDF, it's fast & easy to search.

I hate the .hlp format, not only because of the über-crappy viewer.

I'm using (or well, starting to use ;)) http://www.stack.nl/~dimitri/doxygen/ for documentation of my C/C++ stuff - it's pretty neat. Of course I don't keep all my documentation in comments, I have external .txt files for ideas, algorithms, file formats et cetera.
Posted on 2005-10-04 19:54:55 by f0dder
Reading docs:
CHM is my favorite.  HLP is the worst.
PDF: is almost as bad as HLP -
1) the viewer is as slow as crap. Only on my last 2 PCs (2+GHz)  it's ok.
2) navigating is so rigid that sometimes I feel like an invalid while studying from such files.
3) fonts are never displayed well. Characters are either too smudged that your pupils can't stop trying all degrees to focus (thus extreme exhaustion of the eyes), or look like drawn on MS Paint with a dirty wheel-mouse.
4) viewing pdfs with FireFox means you wait looking at the locked-up screen/system until AReader loads the first page completely. Later, unloading the plugin can mean GPFs XD

Writing docs:
Aimed for clients: chm. I'm thinking about "Wink"-based docs.
Aimed for me or the company I work for - .rtf/html/doc . With screenshots/graphics mostly.  I make txt files with a special icon for task scheduling or ideas, and normal txt files for misc short notes.
Posted on 2005-10-04 21:31:26 by Ultrano
I always disable the in-browser rendering of PDF, I really hate it... and usually I want to save the pdf for offline use anyway. I do believe that PDF renders "nicely", though - but it requires zooming, and then you can't have a full page on screen (unless you use a rotated display, like a TFT with pivot). Still sucks for documentation though, only really useful for things you intend to print.

You might want to check out http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/rd_intro.php , btw - a lot smaller and faster... just not very pretty antialiasing for fonts :/
Posted on 2005-10-04 21:40:29 by f0dder
gorshing,

Because I still have to target older hardware, I use the old winhelp format and while it can only render 16 colour display with bitmaps, it is both fast and small which matters on old machines. If you are careful in how you format code examples, they can be copied and pasted directly into a normal ascii editor.

I keep an ancient version of Word for making winhelp help files as it saves in correct RTF format and use the standard Microsoft help compiler to build the help files with compression so you can pack a lot of data in reasonably small spaces.

A CHM file has some interesting advantages in some contexts. You can effectively build a web site and pack it into a CHM help file, downloads and all and someone can place it on their machine and use it like a web site.

I agree with Ultrano on PDF, it does print well but the displayer is slow and its lookup facilities are poor. It only works OK on later fast machines and about all it has going for it is portability.

Regards,

hutch at movsd dot com
Posted on 2005-10-05 00:29:12 by hutch--

I keep an ancient version of Word for making winhelp help files as it saves in correct RTF format and use the standard Microsoft help compiler to build the help files with compression so you can pack a lot of data in reasonably small spaces.


I was looking into it more last night, and found out the RTF problem also.

I guess I'm just going to stick with CHM files, I only deal with PDF files for articles or letters.
Posted on 2005-10-05 08:37:40 by gorshing