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posted 3 Feb 2016, 05:49 by Robert Chandler   [ updated 9 Feb 2016, 00:09 by Robert Chandler ]

mshcMigrate.exe 2.0 Release

Posted on December 11, 2014 by Rob

So as before the mshcMigrate tool helps you migrate HTML Help (.chm) and MS Help 2 (.HxS) over to VS 2010+ (Help Viewer 1 & 2) format.

This 2.0 release is more friendly towards VS 2013 / 2014 help.
The help format for VS 2013+ help has not changed in any significant way
but the MS Help API has and this meant some updates required for mshcMigrate.

Web site:

Change notes:

Ping me if you have any questions — Rob


Posted on September 11, 2014 by Rob

FAR 5.6 is now available

This FAR HTML 5 maintenance release contains fixes as well as a few new features.

MJs Diags 3.0 is now available

This free utility has been updated to support Windows 64 environment. Web site.
As before it validates the DLLs for HTML Help and HH Workshop.
Necessary as there are still 3rd party tools out there that actually ship & register old versions of Microsoft help DLLs but this causes instability and crashes with HH Compiler and even when just opening a .CHM or going to the .CHM search tab.

JavaScript for MS Help 2

Posted on February 8, 2009 by Rob

I’ve written some JavaScript that allows you to sniff out Namespaces and Titles registered on your PC.  You can also grab the path of a .HxS help file associated with a namespace/title.

  • Download:
  • Note: COM is involved so open the example file in Internet Explorer not Firefox. The example code should work in either your IE browser or within a HxS help file.

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Looking Back on Help in 2013

Posted on January 4, 2014 by Rob

Here are my thoughts on Microsoft and Help as we say goodbye to 2013 and welcome in 2014

How to make CSS3 display correctly in an application

Posted on September 24, 2013 by Rob

How to make CSS3 display correctly in an embedded browser (eg. FAR.exe or HH.exe .chm help viewer).

By default the embedded IE browser control (used by applications) runs in compatibility mode and won’t display CSS3 like it does in IE 9/10/11 browser.

Here’s the fix:

MS Help Experience – Hey I was using that

Posted on August 24, 2013 by Rob

Life after being a Help MVP – by Rob Chandler

For myself it all started with an interest in WinHelp (Win 3.0), then HTML Help (Win95), then a host of VS & Windows help systems. Building information systems and taming large amounts of documentation using TOC/Index/Search navigation aids. Online and Offline help. Empowering users with organized information.

It has been a privilege to serve as a Help MVP. Loved every minute of it. The developers at Microsoft as well as the other MVPs are top people and my life is better from having known them. :-)

Now a small rant…

Today Microsoft are investing heavily in the mobile & tablet markets as PC sales flatten out and mobile sales increase exponentially. But there are still over a billion existing desktop users out there. So why are Microsoft so over eager to retire existing desktop technologies and force desktop users into non-desktop paradigms (eg. Windows 8)? Granted they need to invest in new markets but let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater. As a happy desktop user I don’t want to be forced somewhere else. I just want stability. Keep improving what I have! Like other companies do.

Microsoft invent wonderful technology platforms but they don’t last. Customers invest heavily in them only to find later MS leaping off at a tangent. It’s too costly. Microsoft execs says it’s the constant state of change in the world. I just don’t buy that. Abuse customers too much and they will leave you. Case-in-point I’m doing more Apple developement now. Not that OSX/iOS is better than Windows OS, but I feel they are more dependable and stable long term. Applications you build today should run in 5 years time. With Microsoft I can’t say that.

Despite what we hear about Apple catching up the figures tell us that Microsoft still dominate the desktop market. So why so eager to dump the desktop experience? We are talking a huge existing market of over a billion active desktops. But in the help area alone we have seen all MS help forums discontinued and the Help MVPs given notice (forced retirement for all in 2014). I know everything has its time, and all good things must end, but is Microsoft being too hasty in retiring these desktop technologies given the enormous numbers still dependant on them?

I hope they don’t shoot themselves in the foot. Windows 8 is a prime example. Technically a brilliant product, but obviously trying to force users to fit the MS vision rather than simply provide what most customer needs – An improved desktop experience. I’ve had Microsoft PMs tell me about all the careful studies and research they did in making Windows 8. But talk to end-users and 90% will tell you that they got Windows 8 wrong. I have to agree. Maybe Windows 8.1 will be better. I love Windows 8 but the desktop orientation is broken. Stop breaking my desktop experience. Just make it better. And stop retiring help system support while we are still actively use them.


Free Icon/Images – VS Image Library

Posted on December 4, 2012 by Rob

This is very cool. Microsoft have released the Visual Studio image library of over 5,000 icons & images so that developers can create apps that are visually consistent with Visual Studio 2012 and older.

PackageThis! 1.3.10

Posted on October 10, 2012 by Rob

We are now up to PackageThis! 1.3.10 and getting better all the time. Now with a more intuitive interface and scheduler. You can stop the download and restart at the same place.

For those who don’t know, PackageThis allows you to download MSDN & TechNet Library content, and package it into Visual Studio offline help or HTML Help.

In Australia I can download around 200 topics (and associated images) a minute. So it can take me an hour or so to download 10,000 topics  (the recommended max help file size).

Amazingly Malcolm (from the Microsoft MSDN team) took just 2 mins to download the entire first branch (Design Tools) of the MSDN Library (20,000 topics?) using the Microsoft internal network in Redmond Seattle.

FAR 5.4 Released

Posted on October 10, 2012 by Rob

We are please to announce the release of FAR HTML 5.4 (build 786).

It contains many bug fixes and most importantly Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8 compatibility.

This is a free update to all FAR HTML 5.x license holders.

FAR Beta 785 now available

Posted on September 27, 2012 by Rob

FAR Beta 785 is now available. Now compatible with Windows 8. Will promote soon. I welcome any feed back before I release it.