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Reading DOS Help Files

Posted on 2002-04-04
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Last Modified: 2011-09-20
Hi all,

I've been asked to use an old DOS based C compiler to update some legacy code.  The compiler is called the "Microsoft(R) C Professional Development System, Version 6.0".

With the installation came a bunch of help files with a '.hlp' extension.  I can't get the QuickHelp utility to work - it seems to cycle through every directory in the PATH environment variable saying it can't open it, then says that my help file isn't found.

I can't open the help files from Windows - I get an error message saying that they're DOS Help Files and I can't open them with a text editor like Notepad because they come out garbled.

Does anybody know of a utility that will let me read the $&$#&^% files?

Thanks in advance,

Stephanie
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Question by:SPEGG
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Expert Comment

by:dimitry
ID: 6920380
You can try to use DOS help viewer that is based on QBASIC
utility.
Take it from: http://www.powerload.fsnet.co.uk/msdos.htm
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Expert Comment

by:pleasenospam
ID: 6921021
Try Quick View Plus and/or SPF.  Worth a try.
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by:pleasenospam
ID: 6921033
Also, try VIEW.EXE from 1dirPlus and/or PCTOOLS.  They are both obsolete, but might work.

The full menu of 1dirPlus won't run from Windows, but the VIEW.EXE program will.
BOURBAKI, that produced 1dirPlus, is now out of business.

PCTOOLS is now owned by Symantec, so there may be a current version.

The SPF text editor shown above is probably the most powerful text editor available.

Quick View Plus is supposed to read most anything.
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Expert Comment

by:oldgreyguy
ID: 6921328
depending on the size of those files, you could try the EDIT command at the prompt, ie

EDIT booger.hlp

see if it is just a good old asci file
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Expert Comment

by:pleasenospam
ID: 6922360
Both SPF and the VIEW.EXE from 1dirPlus will read enormous record length files.
Both allow reading different formats, as does the VIEW.EXE from PCTOOLS and Quick View Plus.
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Expert Comment

by:kiranghag
ID: 6922572
dos help exe would read only DOSHELP.HLP file, you might try to rename ur file and use DOS HELP
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Author Comment

by:SPEGG
ID: 6924276
Thanks to everybody for your help.  I'm sorry for the delay in replying.

My problem is now solved - apparently I was missing an environment variable that should have been set and wasn't.

My help files were in some kind of compressed format so ASCII readers weren't able to look at them.  Quick View Plus wasn't either (sigh) but is a really handy utility.

Again Thanks,

Stephanie

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Expert Comment

by:pleasenospam
ID: 6925821
There is an option in Quick View Plus that will allow reading of ZIP files.
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Author Comment

by:SPEGG
ID: 6926306
They seem to be some weird format that isn't ZIP and isn't ASCII.  Trying to view them in text view or as hexadecimal gives me a few words but not enough to be helpful.

Stephanie
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by:EricWestbo
ID: 7060908
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Moondancer earned 0 total points
ID: 7070008
Thanks.

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