Publishing Formats

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Publishing Formats

This section provides an overview of the features, characteristics, advantages and disadvantages of the output formats currently supported by Help+Manual. There is no such thing as the "best" format. Each format serves its purpose, and each can be a good choice for some tasks and a less good choice for others.

The supported formats:

HTML Help:

This is currently the most popular electronic help format for Windows applications. It packs your entire help project into a single CHM file. Fast, compact, excellent navigation and usability, universally compatible and full interaction with applications. Displayed by the HTML Help Viewer, that has been included with Windows since Windows 98.

WebHelp:

Displays in normal web browsers on all platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Unix). An emulation of the HTML Help interface, designed for use on the Web and intranets. Complete with a dynamic Table of Contents pane, keyword index and full-text search. Consists of a directory containing a large number of HTML files, graphics files and the files needed to display the Table of Contents etc.

Windows EWriter eBooks:

EWriter combines the benefits of CHM and WebHelp and eliminates the disadvantages of both. This proprietary Help+Manual format has its own viewer program that runs on any Windows computer, from Windows 95 and above without any additional software. You can distribute your EWriter help in two ways:

A single EXE file with combined integrated viewer and documentation

Separate viewer and help files (EXE viewer and help files with an extension of your choice)

Using a separate viewer program and help files makes it easier to give your customers updates for your help files because you just need to distribute plain data files that do not need to be signed.

This format also provides an emulation of the familiar HTML Help Viewer layout so that all users will be able to use it intuitively without additional explanation.

Apple iBooks®/ePUB eBooks:

ePUB eBooks are an open format that is rapidly becoming a universal standard. In addition to displaying on Apple iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), they are supported by many other hardware and software readers on many platforms.

Adobe PDF:

Your project can also be output as a fully-formatted and full-featured PDF file that can be displayed on any computer with a PDF reader. Ideal for providing manuals that users can print themselves, either on CDs or for download.

Printed manuals:

The Print Manual feature (in the File menu) generates a temporary PDF file in the background and outputs it to your printer. Also supports booklet format (multiple pages per sheet) and duplex printing.

MS Word DOCX:

Generates the current MS Word DOCX format, compatible with all versions of Word that support DOCX. Includes templates that are themselves DOCX files that can be edited in Word. For details see MS Word DOCX in the Configuring for Publishing chapter.

Visual Studio Help 2008 and 2010:

These specialized formats are also known as MS Help 2.0 and MS Help 3.0. They are provided for programmers who need them to document programming components in Visual Studio .NET. They are not documented extensively in the help because Microsoft has not released them for general use under Windows. Both formats are irrelevant for normal application documentation.

For details see Visual Studio Help in the More Advanced Procedures section and the documentation of the MS Visual Studio .NET package. (If you don't have this package you don't need and cannot use Visual Studio Help.)