Microsoft Help Viewer from Visual Studio is based on the concept of help library with installable content. To view a help file (book), you need to install it into the library first. Doing this also requires the administrator rights. 10Tec Help Viewer provides a simpler but powerful approach: you can view any MSHC file from the application directory without special installation procedure.
10Tec Help Viewer is a single-window application allowing you to view one MSHC file at a time. When you launch the application, it searches for MSHC files in the folder containing the application executable file. If the application is launched for the first time, the first found help file is opened in the application automatically. When you launch the application again, it will try to open the last opened help file if it still exists.
All found MSHC files are added to the list of available books. This list drops down when you click the toolbar button with a book image. You can select the file to view from this list:
The list of available MSHC files contains file titles that are differ from the filenames in the general case. When the application finds an MSHC file to add to the list, first it checks whether the corresponding help manifest file with the the .msha extension exists in the same folder. If such a file exists, the application retrieves the file title from the manifest. If the manifest file does not exist, the application replaces the underscore characters in the file name with spaces and cut off the .mshc extension to get the file title to display in the list.
The list is sorted using natural sorting: strings are placed in alphabetical order, except that multi-digit numbers are treated as if they were a single character. The picture above demonstrates the help files for iGrid.NET 3.0, 10.0 and 10.1 placed in the order expected by a human due to natural sorting.
10Tec Help Viewer creates a special index file for an MSHC file when the file is opened for the first time. This index is used to speed up the population of the topic list on the Index tab when the MSHC file is opened again. The index files are stored in files with the .hvidx extension.