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Author Topic: IDEA: Simple "overlay" to CHM (Help) file which allows highlighting, annotation  (Read 4429 times)
beboparubop
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« on: September 12, 2011, 01:34:33 AM »

I'm not a coder, just a reasonably advanced user. However, I also have ADD, which makes it quite difficult to learn, for example, how to create scripts in AutoHotkey. AHK has a really thorough help file, but having a way to highlight, make notes, and maybe even create hyperlinks would really help.

I'm hoping that the coding virtuosos at DonationCoder can come up with a way to do simple highlighting and annotation of CHM (Help) files. I don't need to create, edit, port to another format, et cetera. Think of an a transparent "layer" attached over the CHM file page where I could:

  • Highlight in yellow anywhere on the page: phrases, sentences, or paragraphs of text, and, of course, remove the highlighting you just applied! ("Highlighter" tool)
  • Enter text to annotate the CHM file text with red, serif, sans-serif and, at the very least, "small", "medium" and "large" fonts. ("Typewriter" tool)
  • To cross out selected text, (e.g., for crossing out incorrect instructions: yes, it does happen! ("Cross-out" text tool)
  • Underline selected text, at least in red. ("Underline" tool)
  • Create simple text boxes. ("Text box" tool)
  • Link to other pages in the CHM file. ("Hyperlink" tool)

Highly useful enhancements to the above:
  • Highlighter tool: At least 3 additional colors: sky blue, pastel pink, light green
  • Typewriter tool: Able to use installed "system" fonts, with all the sizes, colors, italics, bold, etc.
  • Underline tool: Two additional colors: blue and green.
  • "Arrow" tool: for drawing directional arrows
  • "Line" tool: for drawing straight lines
  • "Ellipse" tool: for drawing variously shaped circles (ovals, etc.)
  • "Text box call-out" tool: An editable text box with an adjustable arrow (length and angle) to point to the selected text

By doing this in a "layered" format, I am thinking that it would greatly simplify the coding, with no need to open, change, recompile, etc. the real CHM file code. Maybe?

A good example of this capability can be seen in the PDF viewer PDF-XChange, but I'm thinking of the smaller, leaner, "just the essentials, ma'am" approach of DC: easy-to-use, light-weight on resources, and with only the most essential capabilities. Here is a sample of the basic annotations:

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skwire
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« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2011, 08:18:01 AM »

Since it appears you're already very familiar with PDF-XChange, it might be easier to simply convert your CHM files to PDF and continue using PDF-XChange (or another smaller, leaner PDF editor).
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beboparubop
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« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2011, 03:36:00 AM »

Since it appears you're already very familiar with PDF-XChange, it might be easier to simply convert your CHM files to PDF and continue using PDF-XChange (or another smaller, leaner PDF editor).

Thanks, skwire. A good suggestion. I like the convenience of hitting F1 for help, but will try out converting CHM to PDF and using something like Everything to find it quickly using descriptive filenames. I'll also check out some smaller, lighter PDF viewers with the annotation tools I need. (Do you have a favorite?)

Not quite as easy as just hitting F1, but perhaps the "overlay" I suggested might take more than 10 minutes of coding! (Ya think? ohmy )
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skwire
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« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2011, 08:37:15 AM »

The "F1 for help" issue could be taken care of with a bit of AuotHotkey script.  However, now that I think about it, another option might be to use a dedicated CHM editor to modify the actual CHM file.  One drawback I can think of would be that you'd have to re-do everything if the software you're using the CHM file with gets an update (and comes with an updated CHM file).  Follow me?
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MilesAhead
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« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2011, 03:24:19 PM »

One virtue of .chm is it is compiled html pages.  You can use free Html Help Workshop to decompile into html pages.  You can then use whatever tools will work on html. Change images or annotate them, etc..  Then recompile to .chm help.

One nice thing lost in the switch from .hlp help was the .hlp compiler let you create hot spots with tool tips. You could hover the mouse over a section of an image and get tooltip help.  But Html Help has its advantages too.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2011, 09:45:00 PM by MilesAhead » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2012, 10:53:31 PM »

I see this post as the one i am on it in these moments.
But the soft exist
ultraCHM
Beyond CHM, but are not free.

I installed the trial from Beyond and see how is possible, but then you can't save the chm
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MilesAhead
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« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2012, 12:14:12 AM »

Another "free" alternative may be to decompile the .chm and use a wysiwyg editor on the individual html pages. I haven't used such an html editor in a long time. If there are any that do highlighting and let you treat the page as an image I don't know.  But it's not that difficult to decompile .chm using html workshop and compile it back together. If you have a fully functioning .chm to start.

I did get a free html help tool called HelpMaker. Didn't do that much with it. But just know trying the embedded links comes up with dead pages. Must've gone under or are keeping a low profile. smiley
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tomos
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« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2012, 05:34:57 AM »

One virtue of .chm is it is compiled html pages.  You can use free Html Help Workshop to decompile into html pages.  You can then use whatever tools will work on html. Change images or annotate them, etc..  Then recompile to .chm help.

dunno if this of interest -
dc member Jibz compiled the InfoQube online manual to CHM. He gives instructions here (InfoQube forums).

Quote
Re: HTML Help (CHM) version of User Manual - Updated Apr ...
Submitted by Jibz on Sun, 2011-04-03 04:49
____________________________________________

I wanted to make a note here of the exact steps I am currently using to create the chm version to make it easier
for other people to produce the same result.
 
Make sure you have Perl and the HTML Help Workshop installed.
...
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Tom
MilesAhead
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« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2012, 01:47:03 PM »

I'm no html/css expert but it may be better when working text to use tags and css to enlarge fonts and change text color to highlight instead of converting everything to an image format. The learning curve is likely a lot higher though. The advantage of keeping text as text is you don't get stuck doing some OCR later on if everything is converted to an image. Then again I'm no PDF expert either. Perhaps there's an easier way around the problem. But html header tags aren't that difficult. Also you can name areas and set the font size and color using css. I think that all gets translated into the .chm. The tough part is getting the end result to look good as far as spacing, indentation etc..

I did it the hard way because it was cheaper. smiley
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