.chm WTF?

I got a support email the other day:

Did you know XLAnalystr.chm opens with “Navigation to the webpage was canceled”

No, no I didn’t, and here is part of the reason why:

I went to update the Windows machine that I use for those few online Windows/IE only tasks I occasionally have to do.

It said I needed to update the updater, so I did

Then it said I need to update WGA (Windows Genuine Arsepain?) so I did that. Then it was able to check to see if my Windows was genuine or not (lots of false positive reportedly)  Yay! it correctly guessed it is genuine, no black screen of doom for me.

Next it said my updater software had been modified, did I want to reinstall it? oh, yes please. It started doing that then had to break off because it needed to update the updater updater. But I can’t do that until it has checked my Windows in genuine – hello?? Alzheimer’s!! we just went there…

So obviously I gave up, I never really enjoyed merry-go-rounds, this is just farcical. I’m sure there is a rational explanation, something on my machine that needs to get itself fixed so I can use the update service that is part of the licence fee I already paid MS. But the rational explanation I see is this: in wanting to reduce piracy Microsoft are hurting their genuine customers. I hope its worth it. [/rant]

So anyway the net effect is my test machines aren’t as up to date as they might be if Microsoft would let me update them. Hence I am missing the (recent?) loss of love for .chm files.

Chms allow you to take a web site and ‘compile’ it into a single file, great for interactive help systems, so good infact thats what MSDN comes in for us old skoolers who like our help local. So good thats what plenty of us distributors of software choose for our help. I am seriously thinking of just doing a pdf instead in future.

Nirsoft (Makers of the useful Office add-in manager have this as a FAQ:
Q: When I try to open the help file of your utility (a file with .chm extension), I get the following error: “Navigation to the webpage was canceled”, what should I do ?
A: First, try to copy the chm file to your local drive, and then double-click it. If the problem continues, right-click the chm file, choose “Properties”, and then click the ‘Unblock’ button. after that, you should be able to open chm file without problems.

Some poor bloke went through all sorts of misery until he finally got this as a solution:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
“EnforcedDirectories”=”%WINDIR%;C:\\Program Files\\Movie Maker”
We found that you need both the HHRestrictions and the ItssRestrictions for it to work properly.
I think the first entry “Movie Maker” was already there, it just came along when I exported the key.

That certainly isn’t the first impression I am after making with my software


The Codematic web division is delighted with the proposed move to pdfs.

What do you do?



6 Responses to “.chm WTF?”

  1. jonpeltier Says:

    “What do you do?”

    You mean documentation? You’re kidding, right? If it was hard to program, it should be hard to use.

  2. John Walkenbach Says:

    Tell me about it. I use CHM help files in my PUP add-in. Vista won’t even extract them unless you run the setup program “as administrator.”

    I guess they have a new help system. I checked it out a while ago and it was completely incomprehensible to me. My understanding is that it’s not even stand-alone. In other words, you must be running the app in order to view the help.

  3. Charles Says:

    Go back to .hlp ?

  4. Ross Says:

    >>I guess they have a new help system. I checked it out a while ago and it was completely incomprehensible to me.

    Yeah they do, it’s in VS200x, the worst bloody thing that I have evern seen, I dont even bother trying to use it now! just go stright to google.

    I notice that a few app just go to a web site now, like photo shop, maybe you could just ship a website in a dir and use that?

    .hlp, not a bad call!

  5. jonpeltier Says:

    A large client of mine has gone from DOC files to PDF for their help systems.

    “…the worst bloody thing that I have evern seen, I dont even bother trying to use it now! just go stright to google.”

    Some time ago, program came with dead-tree manuals. These were phased out in favor of on line help documents, and authors of third party dead-tree manuals cleaned up. Now the useful help files are being phased out in favor of some non-user’s idea of a great system, and the online search engines (Google) is cleaning up.

    “…it’s not even stand-alone.”

    As I said, a non-user’s idea of a great system. Why would anyone want to read a help file off line? Why would anyone want the drag their toolbars around their screen? Why would anyone prefer the existing F4-Repeat Last Action which repeated dozens of keystrokes in a single click, for a new system that repeated maybe one keystroke if you’re lucky?

  6. Simon Says:

    Ross I’m sure you mean live search right?

    spot on Jon.

    We continue to be the victims of their dumb data misanalysis and determined dumbing down of once powerful products. I don’t see things getting any better.

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