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Microsoft Visual C# Programming: Application Online Help

   

Providing Help

 

Introduction

Providing help is one of the most neglected areas of application development. There are various reasons to this. Some programmers tend to think that help is such a small job that it should be left to non-programmers. This is not a valid argument since the person who creates an application knows it better than anybody.

Asking someone else to create help for your application would only slow the process because the other person would need to have new and more information about the application. Another reason is that, most programmers who want to take care of programming when creating an application think that they are working double to create a single program. This drives them to set this aspect aside and continue only with the application, thinking that they can come back to take care of help when the application is complete. What makes this unrealistic is that, sometimes when they finish the application, they are "tired".

There are various small but effective techniques you can use to provide help in your application: never neglect help.

ApplicationApplication: Introducing Help

  1. Start Microsoft Visual Studio
  2. To create a new application, on the main menu, click File -> New Project...
  3. Select Windows Forms Application
  4. Set the Name to ClarksvilleIceCream2
  5. Click OK
  6. To create a new form, on the main menu, click Project -> Add Windows Form...
  7. In the Add New Item dialog box, set the name of the form to Calculation, and click Add
  8. Design the new form as follows:
     
    Clarksville Ice Scream - Difference Calculation
    Control Name Text Additional Properties
    Label Label   Order Total:  
    TextBox Text Box txtOrderTotal 0.00 TextAlign: Right
    Modifier: Public
    Label Label   Amount Tended:  
    TextBox Text Box txtAmountTended 0.00 TextAlign: Right
    Button Button btnCalculate Calculate  
    Label Label   Difference:  
    TextBox Text Box txtDifference 0.00 TextAlign: Right
    Button Button btnClose Close  
  9. Double-click the Calculate button
  10. Implement the Click event as follows:
    private void btnCalculate_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    {
        double totalOrder,
               amountTended = 0.00,
               difference;
    
        // Get the value of the total order. Actually, this value 
        // will be provided by the main form
        totalOrder = double.Parse(this.txtOrderTotal.Text);
    
        try
        {
            // The amount tended will be entered by the user
            amountTended = double.Parse(this.txtAmountTended.Text);
        }
        catch (FormatException)
        {
            MessageBox.Show("The amount you entered is not " +
                     "valid - Please try again!");
        }
    
        // Calculate the difference of both values, assuming 
        // that the amount tended is higher
        difference = amountTended - totalOrder;
    
        // Display the result in the Difference text box
        txtDifference.Text = difference.ToString("F");
    }
  11. Return to the Calculation form
  12. Double-click the Close button
  13. Implement the event as follows:
    private void btnClose_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    {
        Close();
    }
  14. In the Solution Explorer, right-click Form1.cs and click Rename
  15. Type ClarksvilleIceCream.cs and press Enter
  16. Right-click the form and click Properties
  17. In the Properties window, change the form's Text to Clarksville Ice Cream
  18. Design the form as follows:
     
    Clarksville Ice Cream: Form Design
    Control Name Text Additional Properties
    GroupBox GroupBox grpIceCream    
    Label Label   Order Date:  
    TextBox Text Box txtOrderDate    
    Label Label   Order Time:  
    TextBox Text Box txtOrderTime    
    Label Label   Flavor:  
    TextBox Text Box txtFlavor    
    Label Label   Container:  
    TextBox Text Box txtContainer    
    Label Label   Ingredient:  
    TextBox Text Box txtIngredient    
    Label Label   Scoops:  
    TextBox Text Box txtScoops 1 TextAlign: Right
    Label Label   Order Total:  
    TextBox Text Box txtOrderTotal 0.00 TextAlign: Right
    Button Button btnCalculate Calculate  
    Button Button btnNewOrder New Order  
    Button Button btnMoneyChange Money Change  
    Button Button btnClose Close  
  19. Double-click the Calculate Total button to access its Click event
  20. Implement it as follows:
    private void btnCalculate_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    {
        double priceContainer = 0.00,
               priceIngredient = 0.00,
               priceScoops = 0.00,
               orderTotal = 0.00;
        int numberOfScoops = 1;
    
        // Find out what container the customer requested
        // The price of a container depends on which one the customer selected
        if (txtContainer.Text == "Cone")
            priceContainer = 0.55;
        else if (txtContainer.Text == "Cup")
            priceContainer = 0.75;
        else
            priceContainer = 1.15;
    
        // If the customer selected an ingredient, which is not "None", add $.95
        if (txtIngredient.Text != "None")
            priceIngredient = 0.95;
    
        try
        {
            // Get the number of scoops
            numberOfScoops = int.Parse(this.txtScoops.Text);
    
            if (numberOfScoops == 2)
                priceScoops = 2.55;
            else if (numberOfScoops == 3)
                priceScoops = 3.25;
            else
                priceScoops = 1.85;
        }
        catch (FormatException)
        {
            MessageBox.Show("The value you entered for the scoops is not valid" +
                            "\nOnly natural numbers such as 1, 2, or 3 are allowed" +
                            "\nPlease try again", "Clarksville Ice Cream",
                            MessageBoxButtons.OK, MessageBoxIcon.Information);
        }
    
        // Make sure the user selected a flavor, 
        // otherwise, there is no reason to process an order
        if (txtFlavor.Text != "")
            orderTotal = priceScoops + priceContainer + priceIngredient;
    
        txtOrderTotal.Text = orderTotal.ToString("F");
        btnMoneyChange.Enabled = true;
    }
  21. Return to the form
  22. Double-click the New Order button to access its Click event and implement it as follows:
    private void btnNewOrder_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    {
        // If the user clicks New Order, we reset the form with the default values
        txtOrderDate.Text = DateTime.Today.ToShortDateString();
        txtOrderTime.Text = DateTime.Now.ToShortTimeString();
        txtFlavor.Text = "Vanilla";
        txtContainer.Text = "Cone";
        txtIngredient.Text = "None";
        txtScoops.Text = "1";
        txtOrderTotal.Text = "0.00";
        btnMoneyChange.Enabled = false;
    }
  23. Return to the form
  24. Double-click the Money Change button
  25. Implement the Click event as follows:
    private void btnChange_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    {
        // Declare a variable for the Calculation form
        Calculation dlgCalculation = new Calculation();
    
        // Transfer the current value of the Order Total text 
        // box from the main form to the other form
        dlgCalculation.txtOrderTotal.Text = this.txtOrderTotal.Text;
        // Display the other form
        dlgCalculation.ShowDialog();
    }
  26. Change the Click events of the Calculate Total  and the New Order buttons as follows:
    private void btnClose_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    {
        Close();
    }
  27. To save the application, on the main menu, click File -> Save All
  28. Accept the default location and the name. Click Save
  29. To test the application, on the main menu, click Debug -> Start Debugging
  30. Close the form and return to Visual Studio

Status Bar Messages

One way you can provide simple help consists of displaying short indicative messages on a status bar. To do this, you can first create sections, called panels, on a status bar and then display the necessary messages in the section of your choice. The message can be anything but it should consist of just a few words to fit in its section without going over board.

ApplicationApplication: Helping Through a Status Bar

  1. Expand the bottom border of the form a little bit
  2. On the Toolbox, click StatusStrip and click the bottom section of the form
  3. In the Properties window, click Items and click its ellipsis button Ellipsis
  4. In the Select Item and Add to List Below combo box, select StatusLabel if necessary and click Add
    On the right side, set the Text to Ready
     
  5. Click OK
     
    Clarksville Ice Cream
  6. On the form, click the txtOrderDate control; that is, the text box on the right side of the Order Date label
  7. In the Properties window, click the Events button Events and double-click MouseMove
  8. Return to the form
  9. In the same way, initiate the MouseMove event of the txtOrderTime, the txtFlavor, the txtContainer, the txtIngredient combo box, the txtScoops, the txtOrderTotal text boxes, and the form
  10. Implement the events as follows:
    private void txtOrderDate_MouseMove(object sender, MouseEventArgs e)
    {
        statusStrip1.Items[0].Text = "Specify the date this order was processed";
    }
    
    private void txtOrderTime_MouseMove(object sender, MouseEventArgs e)
    {
        statusStrip1.Items[0].Text = "Specify the time this order was processed";
    }
    
    private void txtFlavor_MouseMove(object sender, MouseEventArgs e)
    {
        statusStrip1.Items[0].Text = "Enter the customer's desired flavor";
    }
    
    private void txtContainer_MouseMove(object sender, MouseEventArgs e)
    {
        statusStrip1.Items[0].Text = "Enter the type of object that will contain the ice cream";
    }
    
    private void txtIngredient_MouseMove(object sender, MouseEventArgs e)
    {
        statusStrip1.Items[0].Text = "Enter an ingredient to spice the ice cream";
    }
    
    private void txtScoops_MouseMove(object sender, MouseEventArgs e)
    {
        statusStrip1.Items[0].Text = "Enter the number of scoops to fill the container";
    }
    
    private void txtOrderTotal_MouseMove(object sender, MouseEventArgs e)
    {
        statusStrip1.Items[0].Text = "This displays the total of the order";
    }
  11. Return to the form and click an unoccupied area of the form
  12. In the Events section of the Properties, double-click MouseMove
  13. Implement the as follows:
    private void ClarksvilleIceCream_MouseMove(object sender, MouseEventArgs e)
    {
        statusStrip1.Items[0].Text = "Ready";
    }
  14. Return to the form and click a border of the top group box
  15. In the Events section of the Properties, double-click MouseHover
  16. Implement the event as follows:
    private void gbxIceCreamOrder_MouseHover(object sender, EventArgs e)
    {
        this.statusStrip1.Items[0].Text = "Ready";
    }
  17. Return to the form and click a border of the bottom group box
  18. In the Events section of the Properties, double-click MouseHover
  19. Implement the event as follows:
    private void gbxFileProcessing_MouseHover(object sender, EventArgs e)
    {
        this.statusStrip1.Items[0].Text = "Ready";
    }
  20. Test the application
     
    Ice Cream
  21. After using it, close the form and return to your programming environment

Tool Tips

A tool tip is a small yellow box that displays a word or a group of words when the user positions the mouse on top of a control:

tool tip example

To create a tool tip system in a Visual Studio 2010 application, first add a ToolTip control to a form. After adding a ToolTip control, the form and all controls on it receive a new field in the Properties window. If the new ToolTip control is called ToolTip1, the new field in the Properties window for each control is ToolTip on ToolTip1. To display a tool tip for a control, first click it on the form. Then, in the Properties window, click ToolTip on ToolTip1, and type the desired tool tip.

ApplicationApplication: Adding Tool Tips

  1. To prepare for tool tips, in the Common Controls section of the Toolbox, click ToolTip ToolTip and click the form
  2. On the form, click each control and, in the Properties window, set its ToolTip On ToolTip property as follows:
     
    Control ToolTip On ToolTip1
    txtOrderDate Enter a value for a date (MM/DD/YYYY)
    txtOrderTime Enter a value for a time (23:59)
    txtFlavor Type the ice cream flavor the customer wants
    txtContainer Enter the type of container to hold the ice cream
    txtIngredient Enter the ingredient the customer wants. If the customer doesn't want any, type None
    txtScoops Enter the number of scoops (1, 2, or 3) to fill the container
    txtOrderTotal This displays the total amount of this order
    btnCalculate Click here to calculate the total of the order
    btnNewOrder Click here to reset the form
    btnMoneyChange Click here to calculate the change
    btnClose Click here to close the form
  3. Test the application
  4. Position the mouse on one of the buttons and see the tool tip
  5. Close the form and return to your programming environment

Online Help

 

Introduction

Online help is the system of providing help files with an application. Online help is usually available from the main menu through a menu group created under a Help category.

In the past, the techniques to provide or program online help were not always easy. The early implementations of help were created in a system called WinHelp. This required using a Rich Text Format (rtf) file and appropriately formatting it. It is possible that, when folks at Microsoft developed WinHelp, they had only Microsoft Word in mind. It was difficult to get the required file ready if you were using another application such as WordPad or WordPerfect... Creating the help file was not enough. Once the file was ready, it had to be added to the application, and appropriately. This back and forth gymnastic was a great motivation for neglect. As if these difficulties were not enough, or because of these difficulties, Microsoft created another system called HTML Help. This neither solved most problems nor created an easier solution. At this time, this HTML Help is widely used and many companies, such as AutoDesk (AutoCAD) and Macromedia to name just two, have adopted it . Many companies such as Borland, Jasc, just to name two, are still using WinHelp. This indicates that HTML Help didn't solve all problems and was not anonymously adopted.

Because HTML Help is the most supported help system by Microsoft, we will use it. Also, it is easier to use HTML Help in a Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 application than to use WinHelp.

The Help Provider

Context-sensitive help allows the user to get local help on a particular control. This works by the user who can first click a control and then press Shift+F1. This displays a yellow box with a word or a group of words:

Microsoft Access - Context-Sensitive Help

This help is easier to provide in a dialog box because a dialog has a feature not available on a form. It consists of adding a button with a question mark and then creating the words that would display eventually. When you create this type of dialog box, the user can click the question marked button and click a control. The user can also press Shift+F1. This causes the mouse pointer to be equipped with a question mark. The user can then click a control and a yellow box would appear for that control, providing help.

Help

To make it easy to provide online help in a Visual Studio 2010application, the .NET Framework provides the HelpProvider control. After adding this control to the application, the form and all controls on it receive a new property labeled HelpString On HelpProvider1. You can then type the desired string in the field of the Properties window for each control that would display context-sensitive help.

ApplicationApplication: Using Context-Sensitive Help

  1. In the Solution Explorer, double-click Calculation.cs to display that form
     

    Clarksville Ice Scream - Difference Calculation

  2. Change the following values of the form in the Properties window:
    FormBorderStyle: FixedDialog
    HelpButton: True
    MaximizeBox: False
    MinimizeBox: False
    ShowInTaskbar: False
  3. In the Components section of the Toolbox, click HelpProvider and click the form
  4. Using the Properties window, change the following values for the indicated controls:
     
    Control HelpString On HelpProvider1
    txtOrderTotal This is the total amount of the current order
    txtAmountTended This is the amount the customer tended
    btnCalculate Click here to calculate the difference between the amount tended and the total price of the order
    txtDifference This displays the difference between the amount tended and the total of the order
    btnClose Click here to close the dialog box
  5. Execute the application
  6. When it displays, process an order and click the Calculate Difference button
  7. In the Calculation dialog box, click the question mark button in the title bar and click on the text boxes or buttons
     
    Ice Cream Ice Cream
  8. After using the application, close the forms and return to your programming environment
  9. To display the main form, click the ClarksvilleIceCream.cs [Design] label
  10. To add a menu to the application, on the Toolbox, click MenuStrip and click the form
  11. On the form, click Type Here. Type &File and press the down arrow key
  12. Type E&xit and press Enter
  13. On the right side of File (on the form), click Type Here
  14. Type &Help and press the down arrow key
  15. Type &Contents... and press the down arrow key
  16. Type &Index... and press the down arrow key
  17. Type &Search... and press Enter
     

    Ice Cream

  18. On the form, click File and double-click Exit
  19. Implement its event as follows:
    private void exitToolStripMenuItem_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    {
        Close();
    }
  20. Test the application then close it and return to Visual Studio

Introduction to HTML Help

The online help we described above provides only small yellow boxes. It is called context-sensitive because it provides its assistance on only a control of the form. Another technique, in fact highly supported with any commercial program, consists of providing an external application that resembles a book. This allows the user to get more detailed information about almost any aspect of the application.

To provide online help in a Visual Studio 2010 application, you can use an external system. This consists of creating a complete application whose only purpose is to describe another application. This means that, in the beginning, both applications are not related in any way. With HTML Help, you must first create HTML files. You create these files anyway you like but, in this case, they are meant to provide support for a specific application. Therefore, when creating the files, try to divide them by issues. For example, you can create a file for each form of your application and use that file to describe what the form or dialog box is used for. You still can use any approach to create the files you would need. Experience will guide you eventually into knowing what to put in those files.

After creating the HTML files, you can open HTML Help Workshop which is a complete but separate application. This application is freely available from Microsoft and you can download it from the MSDN web site.

ApplicationApplication: Creating an HTML Help File

  1. Using Windows Explorer or My Computer, create a folder named cic
  2. Inside of the cic folder, create a folder named images
  3. Save the following pictures in the cic\images folder:
     
    Order Form
    Main Form
    Customer Processing Order Form
    Difference Calculation
  4. Start Notepad and create a Cascading Style Sheet file to format the body tag and the main title of the pages. Here is an example:
    body
    {
    	font-size: 10pt;
    	color: black;
    	margin-top: 0pt;
    	margin-left: 0pt;
    	font-family: Verdana, Tahoma, Arial, Sans-Serif;
    }
    
    .maintitle
    {
    	font-weight: bold;
    	font-size: 24pt;
    	color: blue;
    	font-family: Garamond, Georgia, 'Times New Roman' , Serif;
    }
  5. Save the file as cic.css in the cic folder you created
  6. Start another file with the following contents
    <html>
    
    <head>
    
    <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="cic.css">
    
    <title>Overview of Clarksville Ice Cream</title>
    </head>
    
    <body>
    
    <table border="0" width="100%" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0">
      <tr>
        <td width="100%" align="center">
          <p class="maintitle">Overview of Clarksville Ice Cream</p></td>
      </tr>
      <tr>
        <td width="100%" bgcolor="#0000FF" height="2"></td>
      </tr>
    </table>
    
    <p>&nbsp;</p>
    <center><img border="0" src="images/order.gif"
             alt="The main window of the application"
    	 width="416" height="284"></center>
    <p>Clarksville Ice Cream is a computer application used to process customers
    orders. It allows an employee to receive requests from a customer, based on what
    is available in the menu. When the order is complete, an ice cream is
    &quot;prepared&quot; and handed to the customer. As a commercial business, the
    application calculates the total amount. The amount is read to the customer who
    hands money to the clerk to complete the transaction</p>
    
    </body>
    
    </html>
  7. Save it as introduction.htm
  8. Start another file with the following contents
    <html>
    
    <head>
    
    <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="cic.css">
    
    <title>Customer Order Form</title>
    </head>
    
    <body>
    
    <table border="0" width="100%" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0">
      <tr>
        <td width="100%" align="center">
          <p class="maintitle">Customer Order Form</p>
        </td>
      </tr>
      <tr>
        <td width="100%" bgcolor="#0000FF" height="2"></td>
      </tr>
    </table>
    
    <p>&nbsp;</p>
    <p>The main or opening window of this application displays a form used to
    process customers orders. The top section of the form, also called the title
    bar, is equipped with a menu called the main menu. this menu allows the user to
    start a new order or to close the application. To use this main menu, you can
    click one of the top-level words such as File. This causes the menu category of
    your choice to expand:</p>
    <center>
      <img border="0" src="images/mainmenu.gif"
       alt="The main menu" width="416" height="284"></center>
    <p>After using a menu item, you can click it or click somewhere else to collapse
    it.</p>
    
    <p>The other objects on the main form allow the user to process an order by
    selecting items from the Windows controls. Once an order is ready, the user can
    click the Calculate Total button. This evaluates the total price of the order
    and displays it in the text box on the right side of Order Total.</p>
    
    <p>To start a new customer order, the user can click the New Order button. This
    resets all controls on the form:</p>
    
    <center>
       <img border="0" src="images/empty.gif" 
        alt="Customer Form Reset" width="416" height="284"></center>
    
    <p>When an order has been calculated, the user can click the Calculate
    Difference button to evaluate the difference.</p>
    
    </body>
    
    </html>
  9. Save it as mainform.htm
  10. Start another file with the following contents
    <html>
    
    <head>
    
    <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="cic.css">
    
    <title>Difference Calculation</title>
    </head>
    
    <body>
    
    <table border="0" width="100%" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0">
      <tr>
        <td width="100%" align="center">
          <p class="maintitle">Difference Calculation</p>
        </td>
      </tr>
      <tr>
        <td width="100%" bgcolor="#0000FF" height="2"></td>
      </tr>
    </table>
    
    <p>&nbsp;</p>
    <p>The Calculation dialog box allows a user to easily calculate the amount of
    money owed to a customer. After a customer has placed an order and given money
    to the clerk, the user can display this dialog box. When it comes up, the top
    text box of this window already displays the amount of the customer's order. The
    user can then simply enter the amount the customer gave in the Amount Tended
    text box. Then the user can click Calculate</p>
    <center>
      <img border="0" src="images/calculation.gif"
       width="304" height="152"></center>
    <p>When the user has clicked the Calculate button, it calculates the difference
    and displays it in the Difference text box. After using this dialog box, the
    user can close it by clicking Close.</p>
    <p>&nbsp;</p>
    
    </body>
    
    </html>
  11. Save it as calculation.htm
  12. Start another file with the following contents
    <html>
    
    <head>
    
    <title>Clarksville Ice Cream - Home</title></head>
    
    <body>
    <h1>Clarksville Ice Cream</h1>
    <p><a href="introduction.htm">Introduction</a></p>
    <p><a href="mainform.htm">The Main Form</a></p>
    <p><a href="calculation.htm">The Difference Calculation Dialog Box</a></p>
    </body>
    
    </html>
  13. Save it as index.htm
  14. Start HTML Help Workshop
  15. On the main menu of HTML Help Workshop, click File -> New
     

    HTML Help Workshop - New

  16. In the New dialog box, make sure Project is selected and click OK
     

    New Project Wizard - First Page

  17. In the first page of the New Project wizard, click Next
     

    New Project - Destination

  18. In the second page of the wizard, click Browse
  19. Locate the cic folder you created and display its contents
  20. Set the File Name to IceCream
     
    The Open Dialog Box
  21. Click Open
     

    New Project - Destination

  22. In the second page, click Next
  23. In the third page, read the text. Click the HTML files (.htm) check box and click Next
     

    New Project - Existing Files

  24. In the fourth page, click Add
  25. In the Open dialog box, press and hold Ctrl. Then click each htm file to select them all
     
    The Open Dialog Box - Selecting the HTML files
  26. Click Open
     

  27. In the fourth page, click Next
  28. In the last page of the wizard, click Finish
  29. In HTML Help Workshop, click the Contents tab
    In the dialog box that displays, make sure the first radio button is selected
     

  30. Click OK
  31. In the Save As dialog box, accept the suggested name
     
    Save As
  32. Click Save
  33. Click the Insert a Heading button
  34. In the Table Of Contents Entry dialog box, in the Entry Title text box, type Clarksville Ice Cream and click Add
  35. In the Path Or URL dialog box, select the Clarksville Ice Cream - Home
  36. Click OK
     

    Table of Contents Entry

  37. Click OK
  38. Click the Insert A Page button
  39. In the message box that displays, read it and click No
  40. In the Entry Title text box, type Introduction and click Add
  41. In the Path Or URL dialog box, select the Overview of Clarksville Ice Cream and click OK
     

    Table Of Contents Entry - New File

  42. In the Table Of Contents Entry dialog box, click OK
  43. In the same way, create new pages under the Introduction heading using the following table
     
    New Page Title Page or URL
    Customer Order Form Customer Order Form
    Difference Calculation Difference Calculation
  44. In HTML Help Workshop, click the Index tab. In the dialog box that comes up, make sure the top radio button is selected
     
    HTML Help
  45. Click OK
  46. Accept the suggested name of the file and press Enter
  47. Click Insert A Keyword
  48. In the Keyword text box, type Calculation and click Add
  49. In the Path Or URL dialog box, click Difference Calculation and click OK twice
  50. In the same way, create new keywords using the following table (sometimes you may receive a message box asking whether you want to create the keyword above the other; it doesn't matter, for this exercise, whether you click Yes or No):
     
    New Keyword Page or URL
    amount Difference Calculation
    money Difference Calculation
    customer Difference Calculation
    order Difference Calculation
    clerk Difference Calculation
    window Difference Calculation
    Amount Tended Difference Calculation
    Calculate Difference Calculation
    Close Difference Calculation
    computer Overview of Clarksville Ice Cream
    Application Overview of Clarksville Ice Cream
    employee Overview of Clarksville Ice Cream
    menu Overview of Clarksville Ice Cream
    commercial Overview of Clarksville Ice Cream
    business Overview of Clarksville Ice Cream
    transaction Overview of Clarksville Ice Cream
    Main Menu Customer Order Form
    category Customer Order Form
    choice Customer Order Form
  51. Click the Sort Keywords Alphabetically button
     
  52. Click the Project tab
  53. Click the Add/Modify Window Definitions button
  54. Set the name to MainWnd and press Enter
  55. Set the Title Bar Text to Clarksville Ice Cream
  56. Click the Buttons tab then click the Home and the Locate check boxes

    Window Types - Buttons

  57. Click the Position tab
  58. Set the Width to 800 and the Height to 600
     

  59. Click the Files tab
  60. Set the Default and the Home choices to index.htm
     

  61. Click Navigation Pane
  62. Click the Search Tab and the Advanced check boxes
     

  63. Click OK
     

  64. When the Resolve Window Definition wizard comes up, in the first page, make sure the window defined previously is selected in the Window Type and click Next
  65. Click Compile Full-Text Information
     

    Resolve Window Definition - Finish

  66. Click Next
  67. In the second page, accept the defaults and click Next
  68. In the third page, accept the default and click Finish
  69. To create the help file, click the Save All Files And Compile button
     
    HTML Help
  70. When the compilation is over, close the HTML Help Workshop window

HTML Help and Windows Applications

After creating the HTML Help application, you can use a HelpProvider control to connect it to your application. The HelpProvider control is equipped wit the HelpNamespace provider. This property allows you to specify the application that contains the help application. Besides the HelpNamespace property, the HelpProvider control provides various methods to manage help.

HTML Help can be provided to a Visual Studio 2010 application through the Help class. The overloaded ShowHelp() method is used to specify the help file to display and possibly additional information. Notice that all versions take a first argument as a Control type. This is the parent control from where the online help will be provided.

The first version allows you specify the help file. It can be the help file specified in the HelpProvider.HelpNamespace property mentioned above.

The second and the fourth versions allow you to specify the tab of the HTML Help window to display when the method is called. This is done through the HelpNavigator enumerator that has a value for each tab of the HTML Help window. the fourth version can be used to open the HTML Help window from its Find tab and specify a keyword to search for.

The third version can be used to open a help file based on a keyword.

The ShowHelpIndex() method can be used to open the Index tab of the HTML Help window.

ApplicationApplication: Providing Online Help to an Application

  1. Open Windows Explorer or My Computer
  2. In the cic folder, copy the IceCream.chm file to the clipboard and paste it in the folder of the current project (ClarckvilleIceCream1)
  3. In Microsoft Visual Studio, display the main form
  4. In the Components section of the Toolbox, click HelpProvider Help Provider and click the form
  5. In the Properties window, change its Name to hpvIceCream and click HelpNamespace
  6. Click the ellipsis button of the HelpNamespace property
  7. From the folder of the current project, select the IceCream.chm file
     
    Open Help File
  8. Click Open
  9. On the main menu of the form, click Help and double-click Contents
  10. Implement the event as follows:
    private void contentsToolStripMenuItem_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    {
        Help.ShowHelp(this, hpvIceCream.HelpNamespace);
    }
  11. Display the ClarksvilleIceCream form
  12.  On the main menu of the form, double-click Index
  13. Implement the event as follows:
    private void indexToolStripMenuItem_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    {
        Help.ShowHelpIndex(this, hpvIceCream.HelpNamespace);
    }
  14. Return to the form
  15.  On the main menu of the form, double-click Search
  16. Implement the event as follows:
    private void searchToolStripMenuItem_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    {
        Help.ShowHelp(this, hpvIceCream.HelpNamespace, HelpNavigator.Find, "");
    }
  17. Execute the application
  18.  When it displays, click the Help menu of the form and click one of the menu items
     
    HTML Help
  19. After using it, close the online help window, close the form, and return to your programming environment
  20. Close Microsoft Visual Studio. If you are asked whether you want to save the project, click Yes
 

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