Problems with the new help format

Aug 16, 2008
124
0
I used the old CHM help file to open help for TCC commands directly from my editor. So the new format tchelp.exe is a significant drawback for me. It doesn't support any command line arguments. You cannot even search within one page via Ctrl-F.

So my question is: will Jpsoft make available the help for TCMD 20 in CHM format?
 
Dec 7, 2009
235
2
Left Coast, USA
I have also found that lack of "find in page" feature kind of unfortunate. It is extremely useful in finding text within large, long help pages. I hope JP Software returns to the CHM format in the future. Maybe there's some option I need to enable within the help system, but I also find the display of typefaces within it wrong-looking. The letter forms are not sharp as they are when they're displayed within CHM files.
 
You cannot even search within one page via Ctrl-F.
Wow, and here I thought that I was the only one who used Ctrl-F to search within a help page.

The ability to do a Ctrl-F search in the help page is something that I miss greatly. I use this feature quite often in various .CHM files.

Note that the online help does have the ability to do a Ctrl-F search, but then again, that is a standard function of the web browser, just as Ctrl-F is a standard function of any help file.

Another option is to use the Take Command Manual in PDF format. Note well, though, at this time, that the PDF manual is for v19, not v20. Yep, even a PDF file can be searched using Ctrl-F.

Still, I agree with you that JPSoft should make the help for TCMD 20 available in CHM format.

Joe
 
Dec 7, 2009
235
2
Left Coast, USA
Thanks for pointing out that the online help tool is searchable that way. It completely slipped my mind. I might alias the command "help" to go to the web-based version. Or when the up-to-date PDF version becomes available, so much the better.
 
Aug 3, 2016
376
9
Netherlands
I used the old CHM help file to open help for TCC commands directly from my editor. So the new format tchelp.exe is a significant drawback for me. It doesn't support any command line arguments. You cannot even search within one page via Ctrl-F.

So my question is: will Jpsoft make available the help for TCMD 20 in CHM format?
TCHELP command-line options
TCHELP.exe does support command-line options, though. Some examples I found thus far:

- TCHELP dir.htm = single pane help for dir
- TCHELP index.html?dir.htm = dual pane help for dir (left pane: table of contents)
- TCHELP hmkwindex.htm = single pane help for keyword index
- TCHELP index.html?hmkwindex.htm = dual pane help (left: toc; right: keyword index)
- TCHELP index.html?overview.htm = default help

TCHELP hmkwindex.htm doesn't support dual pane (so hmkwindex.htm?dir.htm doesn't work)


Searching in help
If you want Ctrl-F back, there's another route, albeit quite cumbersome:

TCHELP extracts it's files to "Temporary Internet Files" and starts a webserver (@port 8000).
A short time after exiting TCHELP, the temporary files are removed.

So, after you have started TCHELP the usal way, you can access the files with any webbrowser.
You can find the URL by clicking anywhere in TCHELP, pressing Shift-F10, select Properties and copy the URL (for example:
http://127.0.0.1:8000/helpman.7/A9528318-7181-4068-BA19-A881D1C22458/overview.htm ).
Paste it in your browser (replace "overview.htm" by "index.html?overview.htm") and Ctrl-F is working again!
My favourite: If you replace "overview.htm" with "hmkwindex.htm" or "hmcontent.htm", you get a list of (searchable!) commands. clicking on them opens the subject in a new tab (so the index / content tab stays open)

Minor setback: TCHELP has to stay open (ortherwise the webserver will shut down)
Major setback: the GUID in the URL is session-based. So as soon as you exit TCHELP and start it again, it will give you an other GUID....

But it IS possible :-)
 
Aug 3, 2016
376
9
Netherlands
BTW: port 8000 for a webserver is not the best of choices.
It's officially claimed by "Intel Remote Desktop Management Interface" ( [title] )

Edit: inserting a URL gives me [title] (??)

Workaround literaly typing: [ url = https : // en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_TCP_and_UDP_port_numbers ] Wikipedia [/ url]
(without the spaces)

Gives: Wikipedia
 
Last edited:
Thanks for pointing out that the online help tool is searchable that way. It completely slipped my mind. I might alias the command "help" to go to the web-based version. Or when the up-to-date PDF version becomes available, so much the better.
Do you use Bash? If so, do you use the man pages?

The man pages are a text-based help system, and fully searchable.

man pages for TCC would be a useful addition, IMHO.

Joe
 

Charles Dye

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 20, 2008
4,188
72
Albuquerque, NM
prospero.unm.edu
JP Software will not be distributing help in .chm format. Microsoft has deprecated .chm (and in fact broken it in several critical ways recently).
Rex, do you have source for the new help executable? Or is it just a closed black box that you combine with your own help data?
 
Aug 3, 2016
376
9
Netherlands
JP Software will not be distributing help in .chm format. Microsoft has deprecated .chm
They did, but as far as I know, they didn't come up with an alternative.... (they developed 2 subsequent new help systems, but those are for Visual Studio)

(and in fact broken it in several critical ways recently).
What happened? I know that since Win7 they made it harder to run .CHM from the (inter)network because of the active scripting part. Did they make it worse since?
 

Charles Dye

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 20, 2008
4,188
72
Albuquerque, NM
prospero.unm.edu
What happened? I know that since Win7 they made it harder to run .CHM from the (inter)network because of the active scripting part. Did they make it worse since?
The HtmlHelp() API is badly broken on many systems. (I suspect the problem is really recent versions of Internet Explorer, not Windows per se. Insofar as you can separate the two.) Users get a dialog saying "Web Browser / Unable to download".

But while the API is borked, the .CHM format itself is... well, the same as it's been for many years. Microsoft hasn't updated or improved it in a long time. The HH.EXE viewer still works fine, at least for local files. You just can't control it via HtmlHelp().
 

rconn

Administrator
Staff member
May 14, 2008
11,894
133
They did, but as far as I know, they didn't come up with an alternative.... (they developed 2 subsequent new help systems, but those are for Visual Studio)
Microsoft wants everybody to use Webhelp. TCMD / TCC does support that, though most users seem to prefer a local help.

What happened? I know that since Win7 they made it harder to run .CHM from the (inter)network because of the active scripting part. Did they make it worse since?
They broke the API, so that an app can't display .CHM help directly -- it has to start the help viewer each time you want help on any topic. Which means you wind up with multiple help windows littering the screen. And the .chm help viewer has problems with hi-res displays. And the network limitations are a killer for some corporate installations.
 
Aug 3, 2016
376
9
Netherlands
The HtmlHelp() API is badly broken on many systems. (I suspect the problem is really recent versions of Internet Explorer, not Windows per se. Insofar as you can separate the two.) Users get a dialog saying "Web Browser / Unable to download".

But while the API is borked, the .CHM format itself is... well, the same as it's been for many years. Microsoft hasn't updated or improved it in a long time. The HH.EXE viewer still works fine, at least for local files. You just can't control it via HtmlHelp().
Thanks for this information! I hadn't noticed.

I did notice some time ago a changed Internet Explorer setting regarding displaying images. I had to check the corresponding setting (Options > Advanced > show pictures) to show graphics again in CHM files. Not that it matters for TCMD .....

If you want HH.exe to work with network CHM-files, you have to whitelist them in the registry.
This can be done by Zone (local Intranet, trusted sites, ..) and/or network path.
Keywords: MaxAllowZone or URLAllowList (or similar)
 
Aug 3, 2016
376
9
Netherlands
Microsoft wants everybody to use Webhelp. TCMD / TCC does support that, though most users seem to prefer a local help.



They broke the API, so that an app can't display .CHM help directly -- it has to start the help viewer each time you want help on any topic. Which means you wind up with multiple help windows littering the screen. And the .chm help viewer has problems with hi-res displays. And the network limitations are a killer for some corporate installations.
Sorry, I didn't notice your answer while typing mine (and doing other stuff..)
Clear answer. Thanks!
 

rconn

Administrator
Staff member
May 14, 2008
11,894
133
Rex, do you have source for the new help executable? Or is it just a closed black box that you combine with your own help data?
I do not have source. It's basically a sandboxed compiled HTML viewer.

It has a number of advantages over the .chm format, and a few disadvantages (which will hopefully be addressed in the near future).
 
May 20, 2008
10,498
77
Syracuse, NY, USA
TCHELP extracts it's files to "Temporary Internet Files" and starts a webserver (@port 8000).
A short time after exiting TCHELP, the temporary files are removed.
Does it really do that? I can't find evidence of it. If it does, couldn't it leave the files there (it can be dreadfully slow to start) or in a more proprietary place and have a command line option to rebuild the cache (for example, after an update)?
 
Aug 3, 2016
376
9
Netherlands
Does it really do that?
Which part do you mean?
It does start a webserver. Netstat -an gives you:
TCP 127.0.0.1:8000 0.0.0.0:0 LISTENING
TCP 127.0.0.1:8000 127.0.0.1:49655 ESTABLISHED
TCP 127.0.0.1:8000 127.0.0.1:49656 ESTABLISHED
TCP 127.0.0.1:49655 127.0.0.1:8000 ESTABLISHED
TCP 127.0.0.1:49656 127.0.0.1:8000 ESTABLISHED

It does extract the necessary files in Temporary Internet Files (dir /a /s "%localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\takecomm*" or Internet Explorer > Options > General > Settings > View files.


I think you may be right regarding the removing of the files.
I have a non-default, very strict configuration for IE (it's not even allowed to access the internet, despite being my default browser ...)
One of these settings takes care of flushing the temporary files on exit.
With this flush-checkbox disabled the files were indeed not removed (after a quick look).
Thanks for reminding; I already forgot I made this setting long time ago ...

The good news is that TCHELP extracts just the viewer-files (the "program") and the specific help page you want to view. Other help pages get also extracted "just-in-time".
I guess that makes rebuilding the cache not an option, though ...

Edit: Sorry, netstat -an was on "automatic pilot" . It should be: netstat -ab . Output:

[tchelp.exe]
TCP 127.0.0.1:8000 FF:49702 TIME_WAIT
TCP 127.0.0.1:8000 FF:49703 TIME_WAIT
TCP 127.0.0.1:8000 FF:49709 ESTABLISHED
[tchelp.exe]
TCP 127.0.0.1:8000 FF:49710 ESTABLISHED
[tchelp.exe]
TCP 127.0.0.1:49709 FF:8000 ESTABLISHED
[tchelp.exe]
TCP 127.0.0.1:49710 FF:8000 ESTABLISHED
[tchelp.exe]
TCP 127.0.0.1:49750 FF:49751 ESTABLISHED


it can be dreadfully slow to start
Try removing all the Temporary Internet Files.
 
Last edited:
Jul 29, 2016
47
1
Microsoft wants everybody to use Webhelp. TCMD / TCC does support that, though most users seem to prefer a local help.
I'm thankful that there still is a local help (as well as Webhelp) for TCMD/TCC. I always hate it with most of the other programs I have that when you try to look up help on something, it has to take the time to open the web browser and load a webpage each and every single time. Plus, being that my primary computer is a laptop, I'm many times in places where I do not have access to the internet/Wi-Fi (e.g. on the bus, etc....).
 
Jan 19, 2011
595
14
Norman, OK
@rconn I don't know it was intentional or part of a help file software update, but thanks for adding CTRL-F search back into the TCMD 20.10 help.