Microsoft Vista Help update

Here’s an update on the new Help system that will be shippng with the next version of Windows (Windows Vista).

Vista’s Help, and the XML tags in MAML are primarily task-oriented. Presentation is separated from content, so you can maintain a consistent look across programs. The MAML schema is included in the Windows Vista beta, which means you can start understanding the XML tags Microsoft has devised.

Help displays on the right of the screen so you can jump back and forth between the help text and the application screen. Vista’s Help system is supported by a programmatic interface in .NET, allowing you to develop “persistent Help” – topics that change depending on what the user is doing in the application.

New Help topics will be added to Help files as part of the Windows Update feature. According tothe AP team, content is downloaded to the local machine as MAML and transformed at runtime into HTML for display, as per local content. There’s also a beta version serves the same MAML content in a Web browser.

What are you doing about Vista Help – hoping it will go away, chomping at the bit, totally indifferent to it?




Is the MAML Schema available anywhere else, outside of the Vista Beta for download and study?



I heard a rumor that Microsoft may be scrapping Longorn/Vista Help before it is even released. Any comments?


I don’t know. The emergence of DITA may have affected things or they have run out of time.


And why would anyone care. Microsoft has no interest in creating help authoring standards that might have any beneficial effect on technical writers and information providers. They walked away from WinHelp. They walked away Blackbird, from Media View, royally screwed up HTML Help with security improvements. And they will no doubt, leave this half baked too.

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