Delphi Help Expert

Back when Delphi 2005 was released everybody and his brother complained about the new help system. While up to Delphi 7 it used WinHelp the new version used the Microsoft Document Explorer. The new system was not only slow and buggy, the content also wasn’t up to par with that from Delphi 7. The content issue has been resolved in recent versions, but it is still very slow and at least in some of the Delphi versions the DExplorer task tends to hang after the window is closed preventing Windows from shutting down.

But I digress… I got so annoyed by the new help system, that I wrote an expert for the IDE that opened the old Delphi 7 help when pressing Shift+F1. Later on, I added more options like opening any WinHelp or HtmlHelp file and also open a web browser with the results of various search engines. I also made experts for all Delphi versions from Delphi 2005 to 12. The latest addition was inspired by the superb Delphi Praxis Help Booster (Page in German): The expert no longer opens a browser window in a separate task but uses the Delphi Welcome Page instead (This only works up to Delphi 10.4 because the Welcome Page of later versions no longer displays HTML.

This is the configuration dialog you get when pressing an unconfigured key or through the IDE’s Help menu. It configures Ctrl+F1 to open the Delphi Praxis Reference (in German only) for the current keyword. The check mark at the bottom tells it to always use the external web browser rather than the Welcome Page.

And this is what it looks like (in the Welcome page):

This is how to configure Ctrl+F1 to search for the current keyword in the latest version of the Embarcadero Dokwiki.

Again, what it looks like when shown in the Welcome Page:

The sources for this project are on SourceForge. To compile your own expert, use (Tortoise)Svn to download the sources, open the package for your Delphi version and just hit compile and install. A new entry in the Help menu will let you configure what to do on Shift+F1, Ctrl+F1, Alt+F1 and Ctrl+Alt+F1.