creating help for a tool

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01-24-2012 09:26 AM
JoshuaChan
New Contributor III
I'm trying to create a help file for a tool I've created for some non-GIS users. The old method (in 9.3) was easy and intuitive. I've yet to figure out how v10.0 works. I can edit the "Item Description" but if a user clicks on Help when using the tool he/she will not see anything from the "Item Description" which is really frustrating after spending time filling out all those fields.

When right clicking on my script inside my toolbox to access its properties there's a tab for "Help" but the only option it gives you is to reference an existing .CHM file. And yet there's no info on how to create this .CHM file. Does anyone out there know? The ArcGIS help page on this is actually not very good as it does not give you any direct links to any of the topics they reference. In fact, I've been browsing the microsoft library for almost an hour now and still I cannot find any reference to information on "creating and compiling .chm files" as noted on the ArcGIS help site.

Does anyone have any idea how to do this? I have an html file that I thought I could use but after using Google, I can find no converter for file formats into a .chm, just the opposite - creating pdfs, html, doc from a chm.
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7 Replies
DanPatterson_Retired
MVP Esteemed Contributor
You have to do it from ArcCatalog now.  Select the tool in the folder it resides, then you can change the item descriptions etc.  I will agree with you that the 9.3 way was more intuitive.
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JoshuaChan
New Contributor III
Unfortunately, anything you do in the "Item Descriptions" will not be visible if you press the "Help" button. It's only accessible if you click on "Item Descriptions".

When creating a tool for a non-Techie person, it's hard to explain to him/her that if you need Help, don't press "Help", press "Item Description".
Surely there must be a way to create a Help file that's accessible when you click on "Help"?



You have to do it from ArcCatalog now.  Select the tool in the folder it resides, then you can change the item descriptions etc.  I will agree with you that the 9.3 way was more intuitive.
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JoshuaChan
New Contributor III
I tried it again and you're correct.

Unfortunately the changes I made weren't viewable until I quit ArcMap and ArcCatalog. When I restarted ArcMap I was able to see the changes in the Help docs. 

Thanks!



You have to do it from ArcCatalog now.  Select the tool in the folder it resides, then you can change the item descriptions etc.  I will agree with you that the 9.3 way was more intuitive.
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DaleHoneycutt
Regular Contributor
There is a bug in 10.0 that prevents Help from showing the information in the Item Description.  This has been fixed in 10.1; in 10.1, you enter documentation using Item Description.  When you click Help, the contents of the Item Description is used to display help unless you have referenced a topic in a .chm file.

For creating chm files, I really like HelpNDoc, a free product.  We use it here to prototype new help content.  It's real easy to use and outputs to different formats.  See http://www.helpndoc.com/ for more info.
JacquelineKovarik
New Contributor III

Dale,

Thanks for this awesome tip - the HelpNDoc software is a lifesaver!

Jacqueline

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JoeVondracek
New Contributor III
Is the problem with syncing tool changes between ArcCatalog and ArcMap going to be fixed in 10.1, too?  Currently, if I change help documentation for a tool in ArcCatalog, I can't see those changes for the tool in ArcMap unless I quit out of ArcMap and restart it.  Conversely, if I change the contents of a Toolbox in ArcMap, I can't see those changes in ArcCatalog unless I quit out of ArcCatalog and restart it.

For tools that were created with ArcGIS 9.3.x, I've also found that there are documentation elements that I cannot get at in ArcGIS 10 to edit, even though they display when running the tool.  For example, the original tool author inserted a graphic to illustrate a results parameter for a tool that was created in ArcGIS 9.3.x's Model Builder.  That graphic shows up when the tool is run, but when I edit the tool's documentation, it's not there and I see no way to insert a graphic.  Also, each of the model steps had a process description in ArcGIS 9.3.x, but all of those are gone or inaccessible in ArcGIS 10.0.  (In ArcGIS 9.3.x's Model Builder, you could right-click on a tool and select Edit Description to insert text that explained what the processing was doing.  I can't find anything remotely like this in ArcGIS 10.0.)
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JoshuaChan
New Contributor III
For 10.1 can they change it back to the old way that help files were created? That was way easier and more intuititve. Looking back at this thread I regret not writing down in detail how to change the Help info. I need to do it again and other than changing "Item Description" I can't remember how to do it anymore.




There is a bug in 10.0 that prevents Help from showing the information in the Item Description.  This has been fixed in 10.1; in 10.1, you enter documentation using Item Description.  When you click Help, the contents of the Item Description is used to display help unless you have referenced a topic in a .chm file.

For creating chm files, I really like HelpNDoc, a free product.  We use it here to prototype new help content.  It's real easy to use and outputs to different formats.  See http://www.helpndoc.com/ for more info.
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