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Help-find: "Can't display find tab (177)"??!!??

Posted on 1998-07-15
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-29
Hi all,

I'm using a Dutch system, so I have to translate the error-message. It should be something between "Cannot display findtab (177)" and "Unable to display findtab (177)". For the Dutch experts, the error reads as "Kan het tabblad zoeken niet afbeelden. (177)".

So far for the introduction.
I get this error when I'm trying to use the find-tab (if that's the name of it) of a Common Help dialog box, particularly with the VB5 helpfile (which is a .HLP + .CNT file like most Windows Help files, but the .CNT includes a lot of other ones, which maybe one of the reasons for this error...). I can access all the data of the helpfile (the index as well as the contents tab), but when the Find Wizard completes (I've tried all different options, but that didn't help) I get the above mentioned error, followed by a switch back to the contents tab.
I've had the error on Win95/NT4, on some systems it works all well, some systems I never get the Find tab to display (only with large helpfiles, never had it with small ones) at all and on another some systems I only get the error a few times (clicking the Find tab more than once helps sometimes).
It doesn't seem to have anything to do with memory (I have 64Mb/256Mb swap/1Gb free on the NT machine, almost the same on the 95 machines) since the times it worked well were also on smaller systems. The most weirdy thing is that it's a "sometimes yes/sometimes not" error. I searched the Microsoft-site for references on this error, but didn't get anything, not even on a search for (errorcode) 177 (at least I guess it's the error-code).

I tried a workaround, meaning copying the correct .FTS  and .GID (and .FTG (???) a kind I never heard of before) files from another (working) system to my system, but the Find wizard did come up again and the Find tab still didn't display (except for the same error).

Has anybody had this error as well or can anybody tell me what to do with it? How can I force Microsofts Helpsystem to use a "self"made .FTS in stead of trying to build one each time I just want to search? Sometimes I really need the find tab, especially when dealing with large helpfiles, since most of the time the tree-structure in the contents tab is too unclear and the index tab lacks a lot of keywords.

In short:
- Error after Find-wizard. (177)
- Especially with VB5.HLP/CNT file, which calls other helpfiles as well
- On some systems error, some do fine
- Copying of files from good-working systems doesn't suffice
- No results at www.microsoft.com
- Using Win95/Win95 osr2/NT4 sp3
- It's getting very annoying!

150 points for anybody who can help me out. If it gets (or appears) to be a difficult question, I'll increase the points further. Any help is very appreciated (if you know references on the Web, please say so as well).

Many thanks in advance for reading this and putting your effort to this problem,

Regards, Abel
Question by:abel
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Expert Comment

ID: 1717633
Are you using any other keyboard definitions, such as Dutch, if there is one?
LVL 39

Author Comment

ID: 1717634
The Dutch keyboard definition is too annoying to use, I use the English (US) setting.

Expert Comment

ID: 1717635
I think U R right:
"but the .CNT includes a lot of other ones, which maybe one of the reasons for this error...". That might be some bug with Find in linked helpfiles, ie in this case Find must search not only current helpfile,
but also and all linked. Did U tried to recraete this error by removing
calls to other helpfiles?
Regards, Happy®One

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Expert Comment

ID: 1717636
PSS ID Number: Q143118
Article last modified on 03-18-1997
The information in this article applies to:
 - Microsoft Windows 95
When you try to access Help, you may receive the following error message:
   Unable to Display Find Tab
This error can occur if the .fts files in the Windows\Help folder are damaged.
Remove all the files with .fts extensions in the Windows\Help folder and then run Help again.
The .fts files are full-text search indexes. Windows 95 can create these files for text searches using the Find tab in Help.
KBCategory: kbui kberrmsg
KBSubcategory: win95
Additional reference words: 95 winhlp gid corrupt 177
Keywords            : win95 kberrmsg kbui
Version             : 95
Platform            : WINDOWS
Copyright Microsoft Corporation 1997.


Expert Comment

ID: 1717637
Hey, Jboddy
thanks for the quality info, I learned something today!:)

LVL 39

Author Comment

ID: 1717638

I'm curious why you did find the KB article I couldn't find. Something wrong with the server of MS? I did an "all products" search on "177" but got nothing, no hits at all.

Thanks for your effort, but it doesn't work for my problem. I've tried it a dozen times already, as well as getting rid of other automatically generated files (like .GID).

The idea of getting rid of the references to other helpfiles might have worked, but the .CNT is over 200 kB, which means it's a lot of work to clean up that one properly. Also, a .HLP can have references to other helpfiles as well. I don't know if those are being indexed by the Find Wizard, but I can't check that out - I don't have good references about that part of Windows.
Even if I did get rid of all the references, I would miss them (off course) in the search-list, which is not really what I want. I'll increase the points to 250, since the regular paths are done by now, I think.

Thanks for your efforts so far. Still any input is welcome. Jboddy, I'll reject your answer for reasons you probably now - and giving others the opportunity to answer this as well (and putting my q. back in the qaa list).

Regards, Abel
LVL 39

Author Comment

ID: 1717639
Adjusted points to 250

Expert Comment

ID: 1717640
Abel, do a search on the KB article number. Try using the other references at the bottom of the article:

KBCategory: kbui kberrmsg
KBSubcategory: win95
Additional reference words: 95 winhlp gid corrupt 177
Keywords            : win95 kberrmsg kbui
Version             : 95
Platform            : WINDOWS

Expert Comment

ID: 1717641
I Searched TechNet - July 98 edition with the query:-
95 error 177
With the default link as AND.  Easy when you know how!

Expert Comment

ID: 1717642
Well here is one last excerpt from a technet article.

This one explains that the timing of the error message is relevant and implies that the previously suggested answers will definitely not work.

I dont know if the second option may apply more.

PSS ID Number: Q142222
This error may occur immediately upon clicking the Find tab, or it may
occur just after the word list has been built (during the first time the
help file is run).
The cause of this error depends on when it occurs. If it occurs immediately upon clicking the Find tab, the problem may be an old or corrupted .gid file. Normally, when help is started for the first time, it builds the Full Text Search database (.fts) and the index file (.gid). However, if a .gid file already exists in the current directory, help may become confused and display the error message when the Find tab is clicked.
If the error message occurs immediately after the word list has been built, the problem is most likely due to help attempting to index a help file that contains no keywords. This can happen if a helpfile is referenced by way of an Index command in a contents file (.cnt) and that helpfile has no K footnotes.
If the problem is due to a damaged or corrupted .gid file, delete the
existing .gid and .fts files and re-launch the help file. Note that the
gid file is a hidden file that resides in the same directory as the help
If the problem is due to indexing a help file that contains no keywords, either remove the help file from the index entirely or use the Link command in the contents (.cnt) file to reference the help file. If you are unsure whether or not a help file has keywords in it, you can either search the .rtf files for K footnotes, or you can use the reporting mechanism in Help Workshop. To do the latter, click Report on the File menu, specify the help file to search, specify a file to output the results to, and choose K keywords for Display options. This gives you a list of all of the keywords in the specified helpfile.


Expert Comment

ID: 1717643
ik spreek aleen maar engels
LVL 39

Author Comment

ID: 1717644
Thanks, phyllidee.
Although it doesn't explain why the Find Tab works on some systems and doesn't on some others for exactly the same helpfile (and why it can't be copied, including the working .fts files), it might be a possible solution.
I have VS Enterprise, so I do have Help Workshop as well. Just one problem: that particular function doesn't work. You have to specify an output filename and for some reason HWS places an opening quot + space before the name (and no closing quot after the name) and surprise surprise: it can't find " filename.txt. I have tried different things, but NT/95 doesn't allow a space as first character of a filename.
Concl: momentarily I can't try out your option.

Microsoft never gives sources away, not even of helpfiles -> I don't have the .rft files. Somewhere I must have hlp2rtf.exe, but isn't that all a little bit too much to do for a "regular" helpfile? Particularly a helpfile made by MS who invented the helpfile as well. Ok, ok, I know, MS makes lots of mistakes, maybe even with the easy to build helpfiles, but it still seems strange to me.

Anyway: Thanks for your comment. I will try it out as soon as I can.

Meanwhile: when somebody knows of a way to copy a full content help-directory, including .cnt, .fts and .gid form one PC to the other, solving the problem I mentioned, I'll be still glad to hear (I do have the helpfile working on other systems, but I don't want to continuously have to walk from one computer to the other).

About the KB: I did try the searches you mention (not the KB-number off course, I didn't have it) but didn't get results. Maybe it has to do something with the fact that I'm sitting behind a firewall. I also get different results on Netscape 4 than IE4 when doing the same search on both. (????)

Regards, Abel

PS for the english speaking, halsch's comment means "I only speak English".

Expert Comment

ID: 1717645
Abel, I dont think U'll need .fts and .gid files in your
new place for hlp files (these will be recraeted).
Move only .hlp and .cnt files. Next look inside of .cnt files and correct paths of links, I know yours .cnt R huge:) BTW if all hlp files located in
one folder, no path needed, just a name. Links there referenced with Include command, like:

:Include My.cnt (where My.cnt file is cnt file for My.hlp.)
(I know from Phillydee's comment above there
must be Link command, but check for Include too)
Next, if U want contents of your linked hlp file to be included in
the Index and Search tabs use the Index command in the .cnt file.
Example: to index your hlp file in the main Windows hlp open
Windows.cnt in notepad and add the following line.

:Index My favorite Help File=My95.hlp

If changes do not take effect, just delete the hidden Windows.gid.
(or type Winhlp32 -G Windows.hlp, it will craete fresh .gid file)

Now, when next time some prg will ask U for location of your
hlp file just browse and point them at your new place.
Windows will put this address as refference to your Registry.
Or better yet just do that yourself. In Win95 Registry place for that is:

These steps above R for moving "regular" linked hlp files,
but yours R "kinda special", I know that VB5 hlp files contain bunch macros also. U maybe will need search Registry on your old place (machine), for any additional refferences to your hlp files, remove that
(carefull with that!) and place similar info into Registry of new machine.
But I belive most needed regitration entries will be created when U'll
run your hlp files in new place. Some possible places in old Registry to look:

or even

Regards, Happy®One
BTW, Winhlp32.exe have many really good switches, which in case
of large hlp files might be usefull, if U need more info let me know.
 Yeah, for dumping pure text from hlp files still good SmartDoc 95.
There was not many upgrades, but it's work.
Dont know how it will behave with monster hlp files, U can try:
Sorry, that's shareware:(  


Expert Comment

ID: 1717646
Wow, cool (ugly) formatting..! Sorry.
It's not my fault:)
LVL 39

Author Comment

ID: 1717647
Thanks, happy1, you definitely made work of this.

I tried what you suggested, but it didn't help. It seems that you ask me to modify the references to other helpfiles. Well, I can do that, but especially in VB I need those other helpfiles as well (for the moment I'll only talk about the VB helpfile because that one is most urgent).

I think there's something else wrong here. The helpfile is probably correctly built (it does work on most systems I have), but the find-algorithm may have a problem. Is there a difference between WinNT Workstation's WINHLP32.EXE, the version of WinNT server and the one of Win95? (I know 98 is different, but I haven't had problems - yet - with that one).

I didn't find anything wrong in the reg-keys you were talking about.
In the beginning of your comment you were talking about RECREATION. Well, indeed they are recreated, but something is corrupted as well, because the find tab still displays the error (By the way, AFTER building the FTS).

Since the files get correctly built on other systems, I hoped I could port the files, but that doesn't work (like I stated before). Tomorrow, back at my office, I will compare (binary) those files from the one and the other system. If they are the same, we have to look somewhere else, if they are different, the WINHLP32.EXE's will probably differ as well. I don't think this will lead to a satisfactory conclusion, but it might get us a bit further.

I'm sorry that your info (happy1's) doesn't apply. Maybe you know some more on the subject and what about those switches? That's new for me, although I'm not surprised (many other windows programs have switches rarely mentioned in MS's references). If you can give them or if you can give me a reference-URL, please do so.

Thanks again for your efforts, happy1,

Regards, Abel
LVL 39

Author Comment

ID: 1717648
BTW: ugly formatting -> don't use a hard return when typing in the textbox.
LVL 39

Author Comment

ID: 1717649
I have found a way to look for the keywords using MS Help Workshop (the program wasn't able to deal with LFN's with spaces in it....). I'll report as soon as I now more about files missing K-keywords

Expert Comment

ID: 1717650
Hey, Abel I never said that U must remove links to other files. No!,
check my comment, I just said - correct links, path to other hlp files.
I know U need them all. I tried to say that if your files now in 3 folders
(for example) and U want put them in new location to 2 or 1 folder, just
check .cnt files and correct there absolute (not sure if relative paths
will work) paths. That was your previous question, how to move them all?

Yeah, from my experience I remember case, when I downloaded prg
direct from authors site, there was 1 hlp + 1 cnt file. Plain hlp file no links,
no macros inside and that hlp was not working. Reason was that author
hardwired (default) path to prg inside of cnt, but I installed that prg to
some other place. Sometimes that's happend.

Here's the switches for Winhlp32.exe:
These can be used when starting WinHelp -

Creates a configuration (.gid) file and quits. If a number is specified, it determines which extensible tab to display by default the first time the Help file is opened. A value of 1 would be the first tab beyond the Find tab.

Displays the Winhlp32.hlp Help file.

-I topic-id      
Displays the Help topic with the specified the topic ID.

-K keyword      
Displays the topic identified by the specified keyword.

-N context-num      
Displays the topic specified by the context number
(defined in the [MAP] section of the project file).

-P pop-up-id      
Displays the specified pop-up topic. U must use the -P switch in combination with the -I or -N switch, as shown in the following examples: Winhlp32 -P -I Exec_Winhelp Hcw.HlpWinhlp32 -P -N 311 Myfile.Hlp

-W window-name      
Displays the topic in the specified window definition.

Specifies the Help file to display. If a name is not specified, the
File Open dialog box appears.

I think in case of large, complex files like VB5's help,
launching them with shortcut direct to needed topic
is helpfull feature?
LVL 39

Author Comment

ID: 1717651
In the past week I've tried a lot of options, all without success. I have looked up the paths, they are all in the same directory. I have compared versions of WinHlp32.exe -> all the same. All computers have NT4 WorkStation SP3 installed, some are going wrong, some are doing right. My computer is one of the wrong ones. WHY OH WHY OH WHY OH WHY????????
LVL 39

Author Comment

ID: 1717652
Sorry, hit "Submit" too soon.

I just don't get it.
I am already thinking of reinstalling everything, but if you would take a look at my computer, you'll understand that it would take at least a week to get it fully configured the way I have it now. I don't have that much time...
I think I better give up and wait for VB6 in September. Maybe it has a better helpfile...

All who helped, thanks a lot. Although this q. will remain clueless, I would like to give the points away to Happy®One. He has done a lot of work and gave me the switches for WinHlp32.EXE (although the q. wasn't about that part).

Please post an answer and I'll grade it for you.
If you still have any other ideas, or if someone else has any other ideas, they will remain very welcome. One day I hope I find out what the problem/solution is.

Thanks to ya all,

Regards, Abel

BTW, happy1, I didn't find any hard-coded paths. ATOH, I installed it in the default path, and that didn't help either.

Expert Comment

ID: 1717653
Abel, I begin thinking, that your problem is not a VB5 specific.
I think as a next step U can try to find one(may be more) faulty hlp file,
from list of all linked files. That may be the reason for this error.
Try removing linked files one by one. Check if U have supp_ed.hlp
in your system - remove that first. Here's how:

Try this - in your "main" hlp file click on the Find tab.
When the find help database wizard comes up, select "Custom ....",
Not minimum or maximum. Click next. Now the wizard presents you
with a list of help files to include in the database. Select all files,
then click on the description of the supp_ed help file to deselect it.
All files except it should be highlighted. Now, click next, and continue
to click next after either accepting or changing the following default
Click Finish at the end. Now U should see the little writing in the book
animation and then the succesfull display of the find tab. Try this and
let us know if this does or does not work. If that will not help, next time
remove 1 more file and so on.
U said, that this never happend on small hlp files, just check it.
Before building fresh databases, remove old .fts and .gid files.
LVL 39

Author Comment

ID: 1717654
I'm doing it the other way around by specifying one by one and that WORKS!
I will be going all the way untill I find the error - there are lots of hlp files with VB :(
I let you know when I've completely cured the FTS from the corrupted file.
But I still can't understand why it DOES work on the one system and DOES NOT work on the other. But I've worked too long with MS products by now that I shouldn't be surprised by that anymore.

If you want you may post as an answer. You deserve it!
Thanks for your help and time.

Regards, Abel

Expert Comment

ID: 1717655
I cant say remotely, why on some of your machines they work, on
others - not. I just don't have any info about differences between your systems. Here's a small example. In case if your nonworking machines
R from Dell Computer U may find next info interesting. I think that was
not proved, just FYI. It's not about VB5, but about NT4 hlp files, same
error message. Was posted in alt.sys.pc-clone.dell in 1996 -

".. I've received numerous replies from other Dell owners who got NT
4.0 pre-installed, and even a reply from someone at support@dell.com, and they all confirm that this bug exists on Dell machines where Dell
supplied NT 4.0.  I'm guessing that this is a problem with the "OEM"
version of NT 4.0 that Dell received from Microsoft because a couple
of people claimed that reinstalling NT from their Dell disc doesn't
correct the problem.  This error doesn't seem to appear on machines
installed from NT 4.0 from Microsoft.  I believe "OEM" is indicated
in the Administrative Tools-> Windows NT Diagnostics serial number

(about Dell support techs reaction - same message)
.First of all, it doesn't take any training to test this simple problem
and let users know that 1) yes, the problem does exist on all Dell NT4
systems, and 2) no, don't go through the trouble of reinstalling
because it won't fix it.  They certainly shouldn't claim the problem
doesn't exist unless they try it.  It's also inexcusable for them to
either not be able to support an OS they ship or to not be able to
forward my message to the Dell team that does (they're probably in
the next room)...

(I found interesting in this part reference to not properly created Start menu, anything similar in your system?)
. Btw, this particular problem is not that big of a deal (though I would
certainly like to search NT help).  I'm really curious what's causing
it because I'm having a separate problem on our two Dells where
the InstallShield SDK does not properly create Start menu items.  
This installation works on other NT 4.0 machines in the office.  If I
knew that the version of NT 4.0 that Dell ships is slightly different
than the one MS ships, maybe that could explain this problem.

As U can see there's many possibilities, reasons for errors in one machine and not in the other. That's the software writers favorite thing,
they want your money - guaranteed, and at the same time there's no guarantee at all, that his soft will work on your machine. Because all machines, configurations R different.  
Abel, I cant post "answer", because I sold that "answer" button
to one of the "lockers", now he have 2 answer buttons and I have
bunch of "points". I'm rich!!
If serious, I just not interested playing with points and grades
and I'm not accepting any of these. Sorry, from me, not here not in
any other thread will be no answer, just comments.
BTW, it's a good position - nobody can reject my solutions:)

Regards, Happy®One
P.S. Still curious, about reason of your error and will be looking
for further info from U. And hey, I even not sure that U need any
help, I saw your recent "job" in this group, bravo:)
LVL 39

Author Comment

ID: 1717656

You definitely hit the jackpot here!

I don't have a DELL system, but it IS a clone. Currently I'm not at the office (it's weekend :)) but I'm almost certain that I have an OEM version. Very good guess about the InstallShield SDK. I don't work much with InstallShield (I'm of the kind that likes to make a program as small as possible and preferrably fits in one executable), only when necessary (IS also has bugs (sigh)) but the problems about I have with installing programs with an IS installation are the same you mention. Sometimes the Startmenu items do get created, sometimes not and sometimes on a weird place in the WinNT dir.
This was one of the problems with my system of the kind "you learn to live with it" and I didn't find it too much trouble to create the shortcuts on my own. ATOH I always thought that it was just a buggy install-program. Now I know it's probably not. I hate it already that I need to do a fresh reinstall of everything, but maybe I can get my boss so far to get me a new computer (I'm working on a P166/64 and for the things I've to do with it it's way too slow!).

It's very interesting what you've said about the OEM-release. I quite often have problems on the one computer that I never have on the other, although I always thought that the configurations where about the same. But "about the same" is probably not enough here and I'm starting to hate the guys who ever invented the OEM releases of OS's. Shouldn't an OEM-version be the same as the original? Probably not. While I'm writing this many things about former problems pop-up into my mind and knowing about the installations of all machines, I'm getting more and more sure about the OEM/no OEM situations and the related problems. Again, you definitely scored a bulls-eye here and I'm going to show this thread to the system administrator and some others as well. OK, this will probably not be the cause of all the "common" (or should I say "uncommon") software and OS problems we have, but it's a good lead to go on with. I will update this when I know more about the situation at my office.

If this IS the cause of the bug (and maybe other bugs) you indeed shouldn't get the points from me, you should better be payed in GOLD! :)

Ok, seriously, about the points. It's a very good behaviour to only post comments and never earn any points because you don't want them (btw, do you know that you're in the top-15?), but that can cause a problem sometimes. Let's say, hypothetically, that one way or the other this thread ends up dead and you and I have nothing more to talk about, purely hypothetically off course, and after three weeks the q. is deleted, then noone knows about your brilliant and original approach to the problem and someone with the same q. can't be referred to this one. That would be a MAJOR problem and a waste of this brilliant thread (am I exaggerating? good!). But, as I said, it's purely hypothetical, and I can always make some Perl program that posts every three weeks (minus one day) a comment to this thread, keeping it alive. Thus: problem cured. Sorry for taking your time for having you to read this :)

Thanks for the compliment. I guess you were referring to: http://www.experts-exchange.com/topics/comp/os-ms-windows/general/win95/Q.10067862? Everyone here has his/her own specialties, I think. Since a week or three I'm back alive again (at EE) and I'm sorry I ever had to leave for a while. It's still great fun and I'm learning than by just sitting at my desk.

Thanks a lot for all your efforts (when you don't want any points, I can at least thank you!).

Regards, Abel
LVL 39

Author Comment

ID: 1717657
PS, just curious, but how come that your lay-out is so full of hard returns? Is that me, running OEM-NT or do you have an OEM-95? Nevermind, just wondering.

Accepted Solution

ironheardt earned 500 total points
ID: 1717658
 okay the question is answered if there was a question, please remove it and reward the points to whoever deserves them, :o)

Expert Comment

ID: 1717659
Sorry, Abel, you miss some points here:(
Above in one of your comments you said that one of your
specialties are Perl. I have couple questions in that area and if
you are not much busy can I ask you about looking at them?
BTW it's not much important, just curious and I don't want to ask in
public. My email is goldsite@upws.com, can you contact me,
Regards, Happy±One

P.S. One more help tip for you if you are still interested:)
(untested by me, but looks interesting)

Fix Windows Help Cursor Keys

If you prefer to browse Windows help files randomly, without having
to return to the Contents screen for each topic, you can! You may also
find some undocumented or difficult-to-find topics. Add the following
line to the [Windows Help] section in WIN.INI:

 [Windows Help]

Now reboot the computer to make the changes take effect. The next
time you look at a help file, these new keys will offer greater freedom
to look at your help files:

Cursor MovementCtrl+Shift+Home
Move to top of the file.Ctrl+Shift+End
Move to the end of the file.Ctrl+Shift+Right
Move to the next topic.Ctrl+Shift+Left
Move to the previous topic.

This technique works with Microsoft Windows 3.1x and Windows 95.
LVL 39

Author Comment

ID: 1717660
Thanks for your comments

As you can see, I haven't been around for quite a while (I've layed in the hospital and didn't have much possibilities to go on the Internet). Also: this question is (unfortunately) autograded, but I guess you don't mind: you didn't want the points anyway.

In the evening I'll send you an email. And yes, I would like to help you with your Perl (if I  can, off course).

Regards, Abel.

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