Web help is a type of online help that can either be delivered through the internet or as a stand-alone set of HTML files on a computer. This approach, mixing internet and local resources, is also used in Windows XP's Help and Support feature.
The original URL was WebHelp.Com (ca. 1994, also known as webhlp.Com or webhelp.us.com) owned by Tom Weaver, Palo Alto,Ca. until 1999 and 2009.
Simple web help may consist of a series of web pages, while more sophisticated web help solutions feature a frameset sidebar that provides a table of contents and occasionally search capability, emulating local help resources such as HTML Help.
There are a number of tools that are used to make web help, like DocBook XSL, HelpSmith, MadCap Software's "Flare," Adobe's RoboHelp, Macrobject Word-2-Web, XDocs Knowledgebase, Help & Manual, chm2web, FAR HTML, HelpMapper, SuiteHelp, Author-it or Help Explorer Server.
The advantages of web help solutions are that they permit content to be continually updated and that they sometimes give prospective buyers a deeper preview of products. Web help can be considered as a cross-platform solution since it can be viewed using a regular internet browser, while local online help runs only on a help viewer, and often only on a specific platform.
Additionally, if using a DocBook XSL system it allows the adoption of single source publishing whereby technical or other documentation (such as product manuals) can be produced in PDF format for printing as well as HTML for on-line publication and WebHelp to be distributed on CD-ROMs.
The main disadvantage of web help is that if it is exclusively on-line it may become difficult or impossible to access depending on the user's internet connection. Also, it is difficult to effectively implement context-sensitive help with web help. However, most modern tools offer solutions to this problem, making it possible to provide context-sensitive web help. For example, web help systems created with HelpSmith, MadCap Flare, RoboHelp, etc., support a number of URL parameters that can be used for integration with a web or desktop application.
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