If there’s one thing I’ve learned in nearly 25 years of programming, it’s that users often need some help to run software on their systems. Programmers need help, too, but getting back to computers: it’s rare that you find a technically conversant user. If you write applications that target businesses and departments within organizations (that’s what I do), you find that the users are very skilled at their jobs, but not necessarily skilled at using a computer. That’s why it is imperative that you make your programs as straightforward to use as possible.
You should also add online help to your applications. These ready documents act as the first wave of support for your users’ software needs. Of course, they seldom read it, and so you (or your technical support staff) will actually become the first wave of support. But it’s somewhat refreshing to be able to say, “Did you check the online help, which covers this issue in detail?”
In this chapter, we’ll discuss the online help options available to you in Visual Basic and focus in on HTML Help 1.x, Microsoft’s standard Windows XP help system.
Online help has been a part of Windows since its initial release, back in the days when applications and operating systems still shipped with printed manuals and never required more than two floppy disks. I really miss those days. That sense of touch; the cold, smooth pages in my hands. I remember the first Windows software I ever purchased, ...