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How best to incorporate Office 2007 - style help in VB.NET applications

Posted on 2008-11-13
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Hi. We are looking to develop a series of VB.NET applications using the .NET 3.5 Framework, and would like to incorporate context-sensitive help in a similar fashion to that used in MS Office 2007, so our users don't have to get used to two very different styles.  So I have two questions, really -
1) What type of help system does Office 2000 use (i.e. HTML help, WebHelp, Help 2.0, etc.), and
2) Which help file generation systems would you recommend for this type of work - we're currently looking at RoboHelp 7, Help to Manual 5 and MadCap Flash Help...?

A quick response would be very helpful - hence the 500-point allocation.

With thanks in antcipation.
ecicdev
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Question by:ecicdev
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Author Comment

by:ecicdev
ID: 22951239
Sorry - there's a typo in the above - The third Help File Generation package we're looking at is MadCap Flare, not "Flash"... I must have been thinking of some other product...
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by:Jeffrey Coachman
ID: 23061938
ecicdev,

There are many products that claim to be able to do this.
Here is one, ...apparently you need to get the  "Add-in Express 2007 for .NET 2007.3.4" if you want Office 2007 style help.
http://www.softlist.net/program/help_generator_for_visual_studio_2003-software.html
http://www.softlist.net/program/add-in_express_2007_for__net-software.html

JeffCoachman
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Author Comment

by:ecicdev
ID: 23067221
Jeff,
Many thanks for the suggestion.  I'll have a look at Help Generator for Visual Studio 2003 as well as the others.
Regarding the Add-in Express 2007 for .NET 2007, though, I've had a careful read of the write-up on this and it appears to be geared to creating add-ins for Office applications, rather than adding the style of help used in Office 2007 to VB.NET applications.  I need the latter...
Unfortunately, since office 2007 is going to be new to us I don't know in detail what the help looks like or what methodology it uses - whether it is purely HTML help or whether it uses one of the newer help technologies.  If you (or indeed, anyone else) are able to let me know which help methodology Office 2007 uses I can then determine which help file generators will let me create help files in a similar style.
Thanks for your time on this - it's appreciated.
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Jeffrey Coachman earned 2000 total points
ID: 23067617
ecicdev,

I am not finding too much info of the internal structure of the Help File system in Office 2007.
Perhaps it is proprietary.
If so, then the best you might be able to do is "Simulate" the same functionality with another technology.

JeffCoachman
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Author Comment

by:ecicdev
ID: 23068318
I suspect you may be right, Jeff - I haven't been able to find any indication of what Microsoft uses here.  Which is a pity, because as a good systen it would be a positive step to make it available to its developers.
Many thanks for your help with this.
 
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by:Jeffrey Coachman
ID: 23068891
;-)
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Author Comment

by:ecicdev
ID: 23069079
I had hoped for some specific info on the Office 2007 help approach, but if it's not available there is no point bemoaning it.  Except to Microsoft, of course - I'll have a moan at them as soon as I can find the time.
Cheers.
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