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Creating a Web Help System

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HelpSmith allows you to compile your help project as a customizable Web Help system that can be accessed with a regular browser program on any platform including desktop computers and mobile devices.


Compile a Web Help System

1.On the Project tab, in the Project group, click Compile.

2.At the dialog box, select Web Help as the output help format.

3.Select build tags and other options that you want to use for this compilation.

4.Click OK.


Note: You can also access the compilation dialog box by pressing F9.


Quick Compilation with the Previous Options

You can skip the Compilation Options dialog box and apply the previously used options including the build tags that were selected for this output help format. To do so:

1.On the Project tab, in the Project group, click the arrow in the bottom of the Compile button.

2.Under Quick Compilation, click Web Help.


Web Help Output Directory

By default, HelpSmith puts the files of the compiled Web Help system in the "Web Help" folder located in the same directory as the help project (.HSM) file. If the project has never been saved, HelpSmith will put the Web Help files into the HelpSmith's folder in the Windows "My Documents" directory.


You can define an alternative directory for the Web Help system, to do so:

1.On the Project tab, in the Project group, click Project Options.

2.At the Project Options dialog box, in the left sidebar, click Web Help.

3.In the Output Directory box, define the directory where you want HelpSmith to put the Web Help files.

4.Click OK.


Publishing a Web Help System

The output folder defined for Web Help stores all the files of the help system and it is the folder that you need when you want to publish the entire hep system on a web server, in a shared folder of your local area network, or to distribute it to other people.


Accessing a Web Help System

A Web Help system can be viewed on any platform that includes a full-featured browser program such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, etc.


Integration with a Website or Application

A Web Help system created with HelpSmith supports URLs parameters that you can use to integrate it with your website or application and provide Context-sensitive Help. For more details, please refer to this topic.


Customizing a Web Help System

You can customize the appearance, behavior, and other settings of a Web Help system according to your own needs. The following topics describe different categories of the Web Help-related options:

General Options

Table of Contents Options

Layout Options

Appearance Options

Search Options

Text Labels (Web Help Internationalization)


Using JavaScript and CSS in Web Help

HelpSmith allows you to include and use JavaScript and CSS files in help topics and in the HTML layout of your Web Help system, add HTML attributes to the page elements, and also to insert custom HTML code into a help topic. These capabilities can be used to implement non-standard functionality in HTML-based documentation, or to apply any special formatting attributes.


Built-in Web Server for Testing a Web Help System

While a Web Help system works correctly from a web server, it may not work properly when accessed from the local computer directly due to security restrictions in modern web browsers.


To eliminate such restrictions, HelpSmith includes a built-in web server that allows you to test your Web Help system locally as if it was accessed from your final web server. The local web server runs automatically when you generate a Web Help system.


If necessary, you can control and configure the local web server in HelpSmith settings as described in this topic.

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