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Help files within NUTS

Help files within NUTS


Help files within NUTS

We have changed the format of Help files from the old "WinHelp" to the new "HTML Help".  HTML Help has some very nice navigation features, but its implementation is more complicated.  The latest versions of both HTML Help and WinHelp include step-by-step instructions for many NUTS operations, illustrated with screen captures.  The conversion to a Help file for the Mac required that the screen captures be reduced to black and white, but otherwise will be the same as the Win version.   The Mac version is now included in MacNUTS.sea (4/3/99)

The usefulness of Help files is dependent in part on having good tools for locating the desired piece of information within a large collection of topics. Help files provide one or more of 3 ways to find specific information:

Table of Contents — a list of topics organized by subject
Keyword Index — search a list of keywords created by the author of the Help files
Full Text Search — search for occurrence of a word or phase anywhere in the text of the Help files

Older versions of WinHelp ("WinHelp3.1") and Help on the Mac included only keyword searching. Recent versions of WinHelp ("WinHelp95") provide all 3 of these tools, but the full text search is annoying because you have to wait after selecting "Find" for the program to build the searchable word list.

https://www.acornnmr.com/content/uploads/winhelp.gif (10661 bytes)

WinHelp95 window


The new HTML Help is similar to the collection of HTML files on the www.acornnmr.dev web site.  However, it is not just a collection of HTML pages; it is "compiled", meaning that a collection of HTML pages plus index and table of contents is compressed into a single file.  One improvement which results is that the word list for full text searching is created at the time of compilation, eliminating that annoying wait. 

https://www.acornnmr.com/content/uploads/htmlhelp.gif (19608 bytes)

HTML Help window


The functionality of a compiled HTML Help file is provided by ActiveX, Microsoft’s implementation of Java.  That means that the Help file can only be used with Win95/98/NT/2K.  Also, it requires some system files to be installed on your computer.

For details about HTML Help, see Microsoft’s web site.

Requirements for Win2000 and WinXP:

The HTML Help viewer is already part of the operating system.  You don’t need to do anything.

Requirements for Win95/98/NT:

Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 3.0 or above must be installed on the computer.   (Microsoft is supposedly coming out with a setup program to install the "Internet Explorer runtime engine", for users who do not have Internet Explorer.   This is not yet available.)  While IE must be installed on the computer, it does not have to be the default browser.  IE needs to be installed to add operating system functions used by the HTML help system.

A few other files must be installed into the Windows or Windows/system folder.  These are installed by executing a file called hhupd.exe, which is included in the nuts zip distribution file.  This installs the following files, referred to as "HTML Help Runtime Components":

FILE                           DESCRIPTION                                   LOCATION

HHCTRL.OCX        HTML Help ActiveX control             Windows/system folder
ITSS.DLL                DLL that handles compiled HTML      Windows/system folder
ITIRCL.DLL            Full-text search DLL                             Windows/system folder
HH.EXE                  HTML Help viewer                              Windows folder

WinNT users – you must have Administrator privilege to install these system files. 

Failure to install these files will prevent the compiled Help file from displaying properly and will cause NUTS to close in a most inelegant manner.

The compiled HTML Help file is distributed in the Nuts95.zip installation file. For those users who do not have IE and don’t wish to, the alternatives are to access the Nuts Help web page (https://www.acornnmr.com/NutsHelp) or to install the older style WinHelp file by downloading Nuts.hlp and Nuts.cnt from the WinNUTS page. They must be placed in the same folder as the Nuts program. You must then edit the nuts.ini file so that the default Help file is WinHelp by setting the HTMLHELP flag to FALSE. It is also possible to swap the Help file selection within NUTS using the new HS (Help Swap) command, which toggles between WinHelp and HTML Help.

Win 3.11 and PowerMac

The compiled HTML Help file can be displayed directly only with the Windows 9x/NT operating system. Other operating systems use the WinHelp version.

The documentation on HTML Help states that it is possible to use Java applets to create a dual window similar to that displayed on Windows 9x/NT. We have found this to be too slow to be functional, and have not implemented it.  This has forced us to maintain the WinHelp version for use on the Mac.  This Help file for the Mac is now included in the MacNUTS Installer, or can be downloaded separately.

If you are curious, here’s our summary of Java applets for displaying HTMLHelp:   Currently this method can display a table of contents and index, but cannot perform a full-text search. To use this Java method, the user must have installed a version 4 browser. On the PowerMac, both Internet Explorer 4 and Netscape 4 work. On Win3.11, only Netscape 4 works. Like most Java stuff today, viewing the help files with a browser using Java is slower than viewing the HTML help files directly with ActiveX on a Windows 9x/NT platform. However, with a reasonably fast PC performance is acceptable. On older and slower PCs the Java performance is a serious drawback. For example, a 486 DX4/100, under Windows 3.11 it took over 11 minutes to display the index!  It appears to take ~1 second for each entry in the table of contents or index. For the 40 or so items in the table of content
s, the wait isn’t too bad, but the index contains about 400 keywords.

Last  updated 6/15/00