Dec 232017
Cross-platform help compiler for DOS, OS/2, Windows, and Desqview/X.
File HLPDK80.ZIP from The Programmer’s Corner in
Category Miscellaneous Language Source Code
Cross-platform help compiler for DOS, OS/2, Windows, and Desqview/X.
File Name File Size Zip Size Zip Type
2NDDEMO.HDF 567 219 deflated
HE.EXE 146016 61865 deflated
HELPC.DOC 22664 6820 deflated
HELPC.EXE 275296 106298 deflated
HELPDEMO.HDF 4892 1452 deflated
HELPDEMO.HLP 10189 4920 deflated
HELPENG.EXE 287456 119508 deflated
HLPDK.DOC 43015 12401 deflated
HLPDK.HDF 41181 11319 deflated
HLPDK.HDT 32797 10455 deflated
HLPDK.REG 1977 438 deflated
HLPDK.SET 76 58 deflated
HLPDKKEY.DB 4096 338 deflated
HLPDKKEY.PX 4096 119 deflated
HLPDKLNK.DB 16384 1073 deflated
HLPDKLNK.PX 4096 249 deflated
HLPDKTOP.DB 6144 763 deflated
HLPDKTOP.PX 4096 136 deflated
PROGRAMS.TXT 6389 2435 deflated

Download File HLPDK80.ZIP Here

Contents of the HELPC.DOC file

ISoft D&M
POB. 5517
Coralville IA 52241

* HELPC Help Engine Technical specification and compiler user guide *
* LAST UPDATE - Aug. 01, 1993. (c) 1992,93 - Loewy Ron. *

* General Overview *

The Help Engine database is a combination of text that is read by the user,
and a Topic and Links database that allows the user to view the topics
he is interested in, using hyper-text methods.

Each help database is built of 5 components :

1. Help Data File - this file contains the raw text data.
2. Topic Index - a database table that contains the topic names, and
the references to the topics in the Data File.
3. Links Index - a database table that contains the list of links
defined for each topic, and positional data.
4. Keywords Index - a database table that contains the list of keywords,
and the topics that have these keywords.
5. Set Data File - a database configuration file that contains the
names of the 3 components defined above, and some
additional information.

Version 1.x is the bare-bones version that includes only the basic
operations needed from a hyper-text database, this version is implemented
using the Paradox Engine V3.0 to manage the Topic and Link index tables.

Version 2.x has a new field in the topic table - the title field, help
databases that were compiled with V1.x will not be executed by version
2.x, they will have to be re-compiled!.

Version 3.x fields have different length - the databases have to be

Version 5.0+ has a new entry in the help set file, database have to be
re-compiled, ot the value 128 should be added in the last line of the help
set file, and the version number should be changed to 5.0.

Version 6.0+ has added the keyword support - a new database table is added,
and a new set format is defined. Help databases will have to be re-compiled
for Natice targets.

In Version 7.0 the title field has been expanded once more - to 70
characters. Help databases will have to be re-compiled.

In Version 8.0 the tType field was added to the Topics database. Old databases
will have to be re-compiled.

The format of the help database is released to the public domain, if
you implement a database viewer on this database structure, I would be
happy to receive a copy ..

* Compiler Usage *

The HELPC help compiler is a dos command line program that receives a
help definition file (.HDF) and produce a help database.

The helpC command line is :

HELPC source.fil [/Htopic-table-name] [/Llink-table-name] [/Ddata-file-name]
[/Kkeywords-table-name] [/R-] [/ST-] [/CS+] [/EP+] [/WD-]
[/W+] [/W30] [/W31] [TH+] [/QH+] [/TV+] [/PH+] [/XD+]
[/PX+] [/MT+] [/OS2] [/TXT] [/RTF]

The output of the compiler is a set data file called source.SET, that
includes the names of the other help database components.

Please Notice - if the /W+ /W30 or /W31 switch is defined, the compiler
will generate a .HPJ and .RTF files that can be used with the Microsoft
HC (v3.00b) or HC31 help compiler, and output a .HLP windows help file!.

By default the help compiler produces a help cross reference report on the
topics/links used in the database, if the /R- switch is set, no cross-ref
report will be generated, and no database integrity indicators will be

IMPORTANT - Scan the output cross reference report for links defined, that
are not defined as topics!

Notice - An additional switch is available that instructs the help compiler
to indicate it's parse and code generation progress. Use the /EP+ switch to
see that the helpC compiler is active. Please understand that the compile
process can take a long time, on complex help databases. This switch does
nothing more that ensure to you that the help compiler is alive.

The /ST switch defines if the topic name defined in the .TOPIC command
can include embeded spaces. By default this switch is set to /ST- (No
embedded spaces).

The /CS switch turns Topics and Links case sensativity to ON. Use this
switch with care - Only if you must have a lower/mixed case index in THELP
or POPHELP use this switch. Notice that help databases that compile fine
with case sensativity set to off, might fail to do so in case sensativity
on. By deafult this switch is set to off (-).

The /XD switch generates code to the MDVXHELP help compiler, available
free in the file DVXHLP10.ZIP on the internet. When this switch is given,
a set of cover and section files is generated, as well as a response
file that should be used to compile the help database.

The /OS2 switch generates IPF source code. You must compile the generated code
with IPFC, from within an OS/2 session (window or full screen).

The /WD switch controls Warning Display. By default Warning Display is On, if
you do not want to see the Warnings issued by the compiler when a topic name
or link are found to be incomatible with the target source, and helpC
translate them to be syntax compatible with the target.

Use the /TXT switch to create a text file document from your .HDF source.
With this feature you can create on-line help and printed documentation
from the same source!.

Use the /RTF switch to create a word-processor ready RTF file, import this
file (and update the fields e.g.- F9 in WinWord) to create a professional
formatted documentation from the same source code!.

The /RM- switch uses disk cross-reference report tables. Usage of this
option will allow the creation of cross-reference report for huge databases.
This options will slow the creation of reports, use it only for databases
so big that the report can not be generated using memory tables.

* Command Line *

The compiler switches are defined on the command line. These switches can
be placed before and after the source file name. The compiler will look for
a file named HELPC.CFG in the current directory, and process it before any
command line switches are processed.

Switches on the command line will over-ride switches set before them, on the
command line or in one of the response options file.

Response option files can be specified by prefixing their name with a @ sign.

Examples :

If our HELPC.CFG file, in the current directory is :


And we compile using HELPC HELPDEMO

The helpdemo.hdf file will be compiled, with the target set to winhelp 3.1
and no cross-reference report.

Compile using HELPC HELPDEMO /r+

Will create winhelp 3.1 sources, but a report will be generated.

Compile using HELPC /w- HELPDEMO

Will generate native format help database, no report is generated.

If we have a file called MYSWITCH.CFG with the following lines :



A THELP source, using Long Topic Names, with case sensativity will be
generated, no cross reference report is generated. (HELPC.CFG contains /r-)

* Help Definition Format *

The help definition file format is as follows :

remarks ...
remarks ...

.ENTRY topic-name
[.TITLE optional title for topic]
[.KEYWORDS optional keywords for topic]
topic text and link reference ..
topic text and link reference ..
topic text and link reference ..
topic text and link reference ..

remarks ...

.ENTRY topic2-name
[.KEYWORDS keyword1 keyword2 ..]
topic 2 text and link reference ..
topic 2 text and link reference ..
topic 2 text and link reference ..
additional topic2 text ...

.POPUP popup-name
[.TITLE optional title for popup]
definition for some reference

As can be seen - lines between the .ENTRY and .END-ENTRY keywords are
the lines processed by the help compiler, to create the help database,
every other line is considered a remark, and is not parsed or evaluated by
the help compiler.

The topic text and link reference lines are simple text lines, with
special link marks.

A sample will provide the details :

This is a text help line that includes one ~link~link-topic-name~ in it.

This line will be displayed in the help engine program as :

This is a text help line that includes one link in it.

The word "link" will be in a different color then the rest of the line,
to indicate that this is a link. If the user hi-lights the link, and
presses Enter (or points the mouse cursor and clicks), the help engine will
look for a topic called "link-topic-name", and display it.

Browse the HELPDEMO.HDF file for a demo of a help database definition file.

Notes :

1. The keywords .TOPIC and .END-TOPIC can be used instead of .ENTRY and
.END-ENTRY respectivly.

An equivelent pair of keywords are .TOP and .ENDTOP .

2. Keywords are NOT case sensitive. (.topic = .TOPIC = .eNTry)

3. The .TITLE keyword is optional. If no title is defined, the topic name
is used as a title. (just like in v1.x).

4. If you want the ~ sign to appear in your help database, use ~~ in your
help source file. (e.g. "This is a ~~" will be "This is a ~" in the final
help database.).

5. The Optional .PARAGRAPH and .END-PARAGRAPH commands in the help topic text,
specify the start and the end of a paragraph. This feature is currently
supported only for winhelp and IPF sources. This feature is important if you
want to create long paragraphs that will wrap correctly when a user resizes
the help window. It is advized ALWAYS to use this feature for paragraphs,
future versions of the Help Development Kit will allow greater formatting
control over paragraphs using this mechanism.

The .PAR and .ENDPAR keywords can be used instead of the .PARAGRAPH and
.END-PARAGRAPH keywords.

6. When a .PARAGRAPH is issued, a .END-PARAGRAPH MUST be specified at the
end of the paragraph. These commands must appear as the first words in
a line. The text after the .PARAGRAPH command is NOT part of the text
of the help topic.

7. The optional .KEYWORDS command can appear after the .TITLE command
(If there is one), or the .TOPIC header (otherwise), Use this command
to help the user search for sets of topics that are connected to a
specific keyword. The syntax of this comand is :
.KEYWORDS keyword-1 keyword-2 ...

8. .POPUP and .END-POPUP (or .ENDPOP) are used to define popup topics that
are displayed on the same screen as the original topic that includes the
link to them. Popup entries allow the user to consult a glossary, and
not lose the topic he was reading. Popups are supported in the winhelp,
Native PX and Native Mem formats. In the other formats Popups are used
as standard topics.

9. In the Text target .POPUP entries will be automatically included in a
Glossary file that you can add as an appendix to your documentation.

Additional commands include :

.TEXTCOLOR, .LINKCOLOR and .LINKHIGH - VGA colors of text and links in normal
and high (selected) states in the native help format.

The syntax of these commands is :






Where w, x and y are the color of the text/link, which is a combination of the
color of the foreground with the color of the background multiplied by 16.

The colors that can be used for both fore and background are :

Black = 0
Blue = 1
Green = 2
Cyan = 3
Red = 4
Magenta = 5
Brown = 6
LightGray = 7

The colors that can be used only for the foreground are :

DarkGray = 8
LightBlue = 9
LightGreen = 10
LightCyan = 11
LightRed = 12
LightMagenta = 13
Yellow = 14
White = 15

For example : to set the normal color of a link to light green on blue, use


where 26 = 10 + 16 * 1. (10 = light green, 1 = blue).

Creating Multiple Source Projects :

Use the .INCLUDE commands in the source of your .HDF file, to include an
additional source file.

For Example :

.. some stuff

.include 2ndfile.hdf

.. additional stuff

will process 2NDFILE.HDF in the middle of our source file.

Please notice - .INCLUDE commands can be nested in your source file,
it is however not recommended to nest them too deep, helpC does not
close the input file when a .INCLUDEd file is processed, in order to
minimize help generation time - there is however, a limit on the number
of open files that can be used by a program - this is a limit set by dos.

GUI Font based targets :

The .FIXEDFONT command is used to define a non proportional font as the
default font of the help database. Currently the only targets affected
by this command are windows winHelp v3.x. If you find that your help
databases are not aligned after they are converted to winHelp format, use
this command and re-compile. This command has no effect on targets that are
different from the targets mentioned before.

The .PCFONT command is used to define a font that has the standard pc
character set (Terminal - in windows). If you convert a text based
database that uses the PC's special characters, use this command to
set the default font. This command has no effect on targets that are
different from the targets mentioned before.

Text targets :

The .PAGELENGTH and .PAGEWIDTH statements set the printed page length in
rows, and width in columns. The syntax is .PAGELENGTH xx or .PAGEWIDTH yy .

* Conditional Defines *

The helpC compiler supports conditional define directives that allow you to
tailor your source according to define symbols that are known to the compiler.

You can use the .ifdef, .ifndef, .else and .endif directives to test the
target of your compile and do different things according to this target.

If for example you have a Windows bitmap you want to include in your generated
RTF file, when you compile to winhelp format, but, you would like to use a
statement in other targets that do not support graphics, you could do the
following :

.ifdef windows
some text {\bmc mybmp.bmp} some more text
some text AND STATEMENT HERE some more text

When the compiler will generate the code, the RTF command \bmc will be
inserted in the output of the compiler for windows targets (/W30, /W31),
and a simple text statement will be inserted otherwise.

The conditional directives supported are :

.ifdef SYMBOL - Compile code only if SYMBOL is defined.
.ifndef SYMBOL - Compile code only if SYMBOL is NOT defined.
.endif - Any .ifdef/.ifndef should be terminated by a .endif .
.else - Reverse the previous .ifdef/.ifndef

The following SYMBOLS are automatically defined by the compiler :

Symbol When Defined
------ ------------
W31 /W31
W30 /W30
OS2 /OS2
WINDOWS /W30, /W31
VERx.y When Compiling with helpC Vx.y

* Topic Index Format *

The topic index table format is as follows :

TOPIC - 40 charcters string key - this is the topic "name".
FILENAME - 38 characters string field - includes the name of the
help raw data file. (Notice - V1.0 ignores the value of this
field, it is here for future expansion).
START - longint (long) field that contains the offset from the data file
start, to the start of the topics text data, in bytes.
LEN - longint (long) field that contains the length (in bytes) of the
text data of the topic.
TITLE - 70 characters string key - the title of the topic.
TTYPE - 1 character - topic type. Currently supported types are :
'T' = Topic.
'P' = Popup.

* Links Index Format *

The links index table format is as follows :

TOPIC - 40 characters string key - the name of the topic that
has the link.
SEQ - integer (int) key - contains the sequential number of
the link in the topic. (This way you can assign the links
order in the topic).
LINK - 40 characters string key - the name of the link topic to
display if the link is chosen.
LINE - integer (int) field - the line (from the start of the topic)
this link is displayed on.
COL - integer (int) field - the column this link is displayed on.
TXT - 70 characters string field - the text to display on the line.

* Keywords Index Table *

The keywords index table format is as follows :

KEYWORD - 40 characters string key - the keyword.
TOPIC - 40 characters string key - the topic name that this keyword is
assigned to.

Notice - the database will include a row for each keyword, that has the
TOPIC field blank. This is used to display the first list of keywords, that
if chosen, will display the 2nd list of topics that have the chosen keyword
in their .KEYWORDS definition.

* Set File Format *

The set file is a text file that contains one entry in each line, using
the following format :

topic-index-table name
links-index-table name
help-raw-data-file name

The help-database-engine values available today are DEF=Paradox and
MEM=memory Tables.

* Implementation *

Notice - The Paradox tables (Topic, Links) include one additional field
(wtGeneration) for future expansion purpose only.

* Distribution *

To distribute a database of your creation, compile the help definition
file, and include the HELPENG.EXE file with the .DB, .PX files, and the
.HDT file created by the compiler.

If you use the Native Mem Format, compile using the /MT+ switch, and
distribute HE.EXE with the .SET, .HDT and .HDX files created.

If you generated the Windows (/W30, /W31) help file, you can complile the
.HPJ and .RTF generated file, and distribute the resulting .HLP .

If you generate QH, THELP, POPHELP or TVHC use these packages compilers to
compile you sources into native binary codes. (helpMake, HL, makeHelp and TVHC)

To Generate Help databases for DESQview/X, use the MDVXHELP compiler
that can be found on the internet in the file DVXHLP10.ZIP.

Distribute the .INF files that IPFC creates from the .IPF sources generated,
if you compile to OS/2.

For examples on these compiler's command lines please refer to the quick
start section of HLPDK.DOC, or to your compiler's documentation.

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