Browser compatibility

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Browser compatibility

The top priority of the code design of Help+Manual's WebHelp output was that it should always work, no matter what browser it is viewed with. A modern browser will allow the help to display all of its advanced dynamic features, but an older browser or a browser with JavaScript turned off won't break your help. This enables you to distribute WebHelp with confidence because you know that the huge majority of your users will be able to view it properly.

Different appearance in different browsers:

It is unavoidable that your WebHelp output will look slightly different depending on the browser used to view it. HTML Help and Visual Studio Help are proprietary Microsoft formats that are displayed with Microsoft viewers, and your output in these formats will always look almost very much like your source in the Help+Manual editor.

This is not possible in WebHelp. The HTML code generated is the best possible compromise between compliance with the W3C specifications for HTML and CSS and the quirks and weaknesses of individual browsers. Unfortunately, no browser is really compliant with all the standards. In addition to this, individual browsers often interpret the same rules differently.

Smooth backward compatibility:

The code generated is smoothly backward compatible with "graceful automatic downgrading". This means that the full features require a newer browser with JavaScript activated. However, viewing the code with an older browser or with JavaScript support disabled will not "break" the display, it will just switch off the dynamic features. This process is completely transparent to the user.

Requirements for all features:

The minimum requirement to display all supported features is a browser that supports Cascading Style Sheets (CSS1) and JavaScript. This now applies to all major browsers, for example Netscape 5 and above, MS Internet Explorer 4 and above, Opera 7 and above and the current versions of Firefox, Mozilla and Safari. Most older browsers will still display the help but with less functionality and less "pretty" formatting.

Whether or not all features are actually supported will also depend on user settings. For example, if the user turns off JavaScript support the menu will be static instead of dynamic, but it will still work. On browsers with support for frames turned off the TOC and topics will not be displayed side by side, but they will still both be displayed.

JavaScript popups, full-text search and toggles:

The only features that have an absolute make or break requirement are full-text search, JavaScript popups and toggles. These functions depend entirely on JavaScript and will not work on browsers where JavaScript is unavailable or turned off. The content of toggles will still be displayed, however, but they will always be expanded.

See also:

WebHelp (Configuring Your Output)

WebHelp (Configuration Options)