Visual Basic and WinHelp

Esoteric Stuff

There are other things you can do with WinHelp and Visual Basic, but typically they're not mainstream and may require additional custom controls or a familiarity with the Windows API.

Cue Cards are an example that would fall in this category. For further information on this, see the Cue Cards white paper.

Another example is a WinHelp feature called Training Cards. The concept behind training cards is simple, but the execution is not. Basically, training cards send messages (with your custom message numbers) back to the application that started them. This allows the application to be, in effect, driven by the user's responses in the help file. To accomplish this, however, you need a way to allow Visual Basic programs to see the message loop. This is normally transparent to the programmer, as VB hides the details. Unfortunately, there is no easy way, with pure VB, to see the messages coming into this loop. There are several add-ins that can accomplish this, however. One is Desaware's SpyWorks and another was created just for training cards, called FOCoach (I could not find FOCoach on the web, so it may no longer be available).

If you've enabled WhatsThis help for your application, your users might notice that if the press F1, they get WhatsThis help for the control under the mouse cursor, rather than for the control that has the focus. If you'd like to do this, enable KeyPreview for the form, then use the form's KeyDown event to place code to call the correct topic. Be sure to set the incoming key to zero to disable the default behavior. For more information, see WhatsThisHelp.

If you have any other esoteric things you do with VB and WinHelp, please let me know and I'll add your ideas to this site.

Copyright © 2009 by Dana Cline
Last Updated  Monday, April 06, 2009
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