Getting Help from CHM
If you're a developer on a Windows machine (which my stats would seem to say is likely!) then you may be interested to know that most languages offer compiled help files that you can download to your machine.
Almost every application for Windows comes with a help file. Do a search on your drive for *.CHM and you'll uncover a whole collection of these help files on your system.
I prefer the CHM files over their web-based alternatives because they are fast, searchable, and available offline. They offer content in a handy tree-based table of contents or as an alphabetical index (really nice if you know the name of that function but need to know the parameter order). Also, they tend to be cross-referenced allowing you to burrow into related topics.
So, here's a quick list of the ones I use:
- PHP, also apparently available in an extended format that I have not used personally.
- MySQL; look for the CHM column in the table of documentation.
- CakePHP; this one is auto-generated and tends to be pretty good but some of the formatting can make it difficult to follow along. Grab both the API and Manual.
- Windows Script; it does Microsoft Genuine validation (so annoying) and having both VBScript and JScript combined in one file is frustrating. The version before this had VBScript and JScript in separate files, making it less confusing to look up a method or object description but is no longer available.
- If you do MS SQL Server development and have the client tools installed, do a search on your hard drive for tsqlref.chm and mdacxml.chm. The Transact SQL one is the same (I think) as the one that you'd get if you hit F1 from the Query Analyzer. The MDAC one has a bunch of stuff but best of all includes MSXML and ADO API information.
Microsoft Office applications also have developer CHM's that you can install, if you ever find yourself doing VBA development.
Got any good documentation tips?