This page is still under construction (last update: September 14, 2023)!
Ziphelp is basically HTML in a compressed zip archive.
It is a specification for an open cross-platform help format for software applications,
based on the standard formats HTML, XML and ZIP.
You can package any HTML files into a regular zip archive, rename it to a ".zhelp" file extension and a Ziphelp viewer can read it.
But Ziphelp is more than that. It also is a protcol based on the standard sitemap protocol to provide a Ziphelp viewer with extended information about the help system inside. This extended information may include help keywords or context numbers, that enable a viewer to navigate the documentation and provide accurate context-sensitive help for an app.
Got a file ending with ".zhelp" and don't know how to open it? Here you go!
This viewer is a free app to display and run Ziphelp documentation files. To view them, just install the viewer app, available for Microsoft Windows and MacOS 11.
Have a look at the Ziphelp documentation and learn how simple it is to create Ziphelp with standard tools.
For Embarcadero Delphi, we offer a ready-to-use implementation of the Ziphelp protocol, to integrate it into your Delphi application. The implementation works for all platforms that Delphi supports.
But it does not end here. If you would like to create a Ziphelp implementation for other programming languages, we are here to help and would be happy to list your work here. Please contact us if you need more information.
Is Ziphelp a new file/help format?
No. Ziphelp is an XML schema that extends the standard sitemap protocol by adding application-specific information to it. This helps a desktop, mobile or web application to navigate the help system and provide improved context-sensitive help.
What is required to create Ziphelp?
You need a HTML editor for the content, a text/xml editor for the sitemap.xml. When delivering Ziphelp in a zip archive, you need a standard zipping tool.
Our own authoring tool Help+Manual does of course create Ziphelp out of the box.
Is Ziphelp always "HTML in a zip file"?
No. When deploying documentation for a desktop application (Windows, MacOS, Linux), it makes sense to store the help system locally. It further makes sense to compress the data and deploy it in a single archive file, hence a zip file.
But a web application (and even desktop applications) may refer to an online version of the help system. Ziphelp is simply an extension of the standard sitemap protocol. By reading the sitemap.xml, the web or desktop application knows the structure of the help system and has all the information required to provide contextual help for the end user.
Where can I find the Ziphelp XML schema?
You find the Ziphelp XML schema explained in detail in the Ziphelp documentation.
For validation of Ziphelp sitemaps, you may download the XSD schema file.
Delphi implementation for Ziphelp with source
Delphi Ziphelp Demo (~12mb, cross-platform, for FMX and VCL)
The download file includes: