Online Help is topic, procedural or reference information delivered through computer software. It is a form of User Assistance. User assistance is a general term for guided assistance to a user of a Software product Most Help is designed to give assistance in the use of a software application or operating system, but can also be used to present information on a broad range of subjects. When Help is linked to the state of application (what user is doing), it's called context-sensitive Help. Context-sensitive help is a kind of Online help that is obtained from a specific point in the state of the software providing help for the situation that is associated with
Online Help is created through Help authoring tools. A Help Authoring Tool or HAT is a software program used by Technical writers to create Online help manuals It is delivered in a wide variety of formats, some proprietary and some open-standard, including:
- Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), which includes HTML Help, HTML-based Help, JavaHelp, and Oracle Help. The word proprietary indicates that a party or proprietor exercises private Ownership, control or use over an item of Property. An open standard is a Standard that is publicly available and has various rights to use associated with it HTML, an initialism of HyperText Markup Language, is the predominant Markup language for Web pages It provides a means to describe the structure
- Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF)
Microsoft Help Platforms
Microsoft develops the platforms for delivering Help systems in the Microsoft Windows operating system. Microsoft Windows is a series of Software Operating systems and Graphical user interfaces produced by Microsoft.
- Microsoft QuickHelp - Ralph Walden joined Microsoft in 1987 and wrote an online help system for MS-DOS and OS/2 called QuickHelp. Ralph was also primarily responsible for WinHelp and HTML Help 1. x.
- Microsoft WinHelp (. Microsoft WinHelp is a proprietary format for Online help files that can be displayed by the Microsoft Help browser winhelp HLP) - Based on Rich Text Format, this was the industry standard for Windows 3. 1 and Windows 95/NT. The popular Windows Help program (WinHlp32. exe) was included with all Windows operating systems from Windows 3.0 until the Windows XP operating system. Windows 30 is the third major release of Microsoft Windows, and came out on 22 May 1990 Windows XP is a family of 32-bit and 64-bit Operating systems produced by Microsoft for use on Personal computers including home and However, the Help engine will not be included with Windows Vista and will only be available via download. Windows Vista (ˈvɪstə is a line of Operating systems developed by Microsoft for use on Personal computers including home and business desktops  (click Help Engine Support)
- HTML Help 2.0 - In 2001, Microsoft announced plans for a wide release of HTML Help 2. Microsoft Help 2x is a proprietary format for online help files developed by Microsoft and first released in 2001 as a help system for Visual Studio Year 2001 ( MMI) was a Common year starting on Monday according to the Gregorian calendar. 0. This platform was developed by Microsoft and shipped in 2002 as the help format for Visual Studio . See also 2002 (disambiguation Year 2002 ( MMII) was a Common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. NET, MSDN Library and Technet products; however Microsoft announced it had cancelled plans to make the format publicly available.
- AP Help 1.0 - Assistance Platform Help is the new generation of online Help being developed for and shipped with Windows Vista. Microsoft Assistance Markup Language ( Microsoft AML, generally referred to as MAML) is an XML -based Markup language developed by the Microsoft Windows Vista (ˈvɪstə is a line of Operating systems developed by Microsoft for use on Personal computers including home and business desktops It will not be made publicly available as an authoring platform for other software vendors. It will be used by Microsoft, OEMs, and certain corporations.
- AP Help 2. 0 - This version of the new Assistance Platform Help engine is currently on hold.
- Apple Help (. HELP) - Apple Computer's proprietary help platform for the Mac OS 8.5+ operating system. Apple Inc, ( formerly Apple Computer Inc, is an American Multinational corporation with a focus on designing and manufacturing Consumer electronics Mac OS 8 is an Operating system released by Apple Computer on July 26 1997.
- Sun JavaHelp (. js) - A platform-independent help system written in Java programming language by Sun Microsystems. Sun Microsystems Inc ( is a multinational vendor of Computers computer components Computer software, and Information technology services It runs on any platform and browser that supports the Java Runtime Environment (JRE). A Java Virtual Machine ( JVM) is a set of computer software programs and data structures which use a Virtual machine 
- Oracle Help - Two formats developed by the Oracle Corporation: Oracle Help for Java (OHJ) and Oracle Help for Web (OHW). Oracle Corporation ( specializes in developing and marketing Enterprise software products — particularly Database management systems In 2007 Oracle ranked 
- DotNetHelp - A new Windows Help format, designed to replace the . chm format, that also supports . NET applications.
- The Texinfo program and format (also known as the "info" system) is the official documentation system for the GNU project. Texinfo is a typesetting syntax used for generating documentation in both on-line and printed form (creating filetypes as dvi html pdf etc The GNU Project is a Free software, Mass collaboration project announced in 1983 by Richard Stallman.
- Unix man pages are the standard method used to document Unix commands. Almost all substantial UNIX and Unix-like Operating systems have extensive documentation known as man pages (short for "manual pages" Unix (officially trademarked as UNIX, sometimes also written as Unix with Small caps) is a computer
- Information Presentation Facility (IPF) is the help system used by IBM's OS/2 system. Information Presentation Facility (IPF is a system for presenting Online help and Hypertext on IBM OS/2 systems OS/2 is a computer Operating system, initially created by Microsoft and IBM, then later developed by IBM exclusively
See also Balloon help was a help system introduced by Apple Computer in their 1991 release of System 7 Web help is a type of Online help delivered through the Internet. Microsoft Assistance Markup Language ( Microsoft AML, generally referred to as MAML) is an XML -based Markup language developed by the Microsoft The Darwin Information Typing Architecture ( DITA) is an XML -based architecture for authoring producing and delivering technical information
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