This week's Tech Tuesday is from our Product Specialist, Pat Roth who has heard your cry for assistance when it comes to Help Files and is addressing the issue below:
Everyone, including myself, is an “end user” at some point and most of the technical folk like to figure things out themselves. Sometimes that includes the necessary evil of reading documentation or referring to help files.
But what if you have a help file but cannot see the contents?
In eOne support, we’ve seen a number of times where the user cannot see the contents of help files.
If your help file is installed as part of an application, then we don’t see the issue because the installer is “trusted” and therefore the files it installs are also marked as “trusted”.
But chm help files downloaded separately aren’t installed and by default newer versions of Windows won’t trust them and so you cannot see the contents.
The symptoms of this are selecting a help topic but not seeing contents as the screenshot below shows.
Figure 1: Can see help topics but not the contents
From an end user perspective, the help file must be “broken” because when they check other help files – they open just fine – and so they give eOne support a call.
As I noted, since the file was downloaded and not installed – Windows has a distrust of the file and won’t display the ‘active’ content of the file.
So we need to tell Windows that this file is “OK”.
If you right click on the file and choose Properties we see:
Figure 2: Security message from Windows
Notice at the bottom there is a Security message:
This file came from another computer and might be blocked to help protect this computer.
If you trust eOne, you can press the Unblock button and the Security message will go away.
When you open the help file the next time, it will display the contents correctly.
The above has corrected this issue every time until just this last week when I ran into a twist.
The customer could not see the contents of the file but didn’t get the Security warning as displayed in Figure 2.
After a bit of poking around and talking about it, the one ‘interesting’ thing a bit different is that they were using a Windows 2012 R2 machine. I didn’t have R2 but I did have Windows 2012 and so I tested opening my help file (that opens fine on Windows 8.1 using the Unblock method above) on that machine. And I found I could repro the issue.
There wasn’t any kind of Security warning and not chance to Unblock the file – but it wouldn’t display.
Knowing the file is OK, this tells us that it is something specific about Windows 2012.
A little bit of Bing searching reveals that this is so. One result was to a forum post that talks about this issue on Windows 7 and Windows 2012 and gives the solution(s) to resolve.
One of the responses to the post says that you need to make sure you have a couple of regkeys defined allowing the ability to trust help files.
I had the one key on my Windows 2012 install but not the second.
I was missing this one:
Once I created the key in my registry, the SmartPost.chm file would now display the contents as expected.
I’ve attached a .reg file here with the registry change to add this key for you or you can add it manually.
Figure 3: Registry Key I added
Hope this helps!