Last updated 2010/09/27
I'm no expert help file author. But I'm a darned good and exceedingly lazy programmer! <grin>
Don't even think of using the MS Help Workshop. Don't go there. Don't get into all the stuff. You don't need to. What little I've seen of all that stuff is that its ugly beyond belief.
For a list of a third party help system visit HelpMaster. This will save you many, many hours of fiddling inside the Help stuff and learning things.
Several years ago I used Easyhelp and used their product inside Word 97. I did a 100 page manual in a weekend using this software. This included learning how to use the help system and Easyhelp. Mind you all I've got is Topics and Links. Not using any fancy stuff.
The tech support for the one question I had was very good.
You will want to download the full version which includes the 32 bit help compiler or you can download the partial version and then download the latest version of the help compiler from Microsoft.
Oh, and you'll want to use styles in Word for all your section and sub headings.
Everything works from the Context IDs. You define those in your help system. You also define those on your Access forms. (Hopefully there's a one to one match on them and you haven't screwed up. I wrote some routines to check the context IDs of all the forms and save them to a table so I could double check how they were all organized.) I am too lazy to do the context IDs on a control by control basis.
You will also need to define the compiled help table name in the Access forms. You're best off using the same directory for your application/front end MDB/MDE as your help file.
I wanted to add a menu item which the user could click to go to the table of contents in the help system. The only way I found was to add a macro with the single line in it "RunApp" with the command line "winhlp32.exe (insert name of your help file here).hlp".
If all you need is open the help file at the default topic, then you can use Shell API and pass it the help file path. Shell CurrentProject.Path & "\<helpfilename>.chm" (or .hlp if the old format). That should open your help file, but you'll have to disable the Access Help command button and add your own custom one. See http://www.mvps.org/access/api/api0018.htm. This would be equivalent to double-clicking on the help file.
Running your help instead of Access's when distributing apps via the ODE
You will need the the following in the registry key setup in the ODE:
I also included the .GID and .FTS file in the distribution although Access will build them automatically.
Microsoft's Help on Help Files
MOD2000: How to Create Context Sensitive HTML Help Files
ODE97: Tips for Creating and Compiling
Your Windows Help File - 171958
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