We’re all familiar with help files. These documents come with most software programs, and tell you how to use the program and its features. Many help files are created using Help Workshop, a free help compiler distributed by Microsoft. But Microsoft’s Help Workshop can be tricky to use on its own. That’s where programs like Shalom Help Maker come in.
Since I don’t create and distribute software, you’d think I wouldn’t have much use for a program like Shalom Help Maker. But I use this program all of the time. Not as a help compiler, but as a Personal Information Manager, or PIM.
I have saved hundreds of articles and essays to my hard drive over the years. I tried to use the My Documents folder in Windows Explorer to keep them organized, but my computer files felt messy and cluttered. Personal Information Managers help to organize information, putting it all in one place, and helping you find what you need fast. And, while Shalom Help Maker wasn’t designed as a Personal Information Manager, it contains many of the best features of the PIMs I’ve used.
Storage and Searching
With Shalom Help Maker, you can store all sorts of information, like articles, essays, and old emails, in one help file. And you can organize the articles by topic and sub-topic in a hierarchical tree structure similar to that used by Windows Explorer. And you can use the Index and Find features to search the articles in a help file by either keyword or content.
Entering new articles into a help file is quick and painless. Shalom Help Maker uses an editor very similar to WordPad. If you know how to use WorkPad, you’ll get the hang of using Shalom Help Maker’s editor in no time.
Like an E-Book
The help files created by Shalom Help Maker are similar to stand-alone executable e-books. But, you can keep adding material to the help file even after you’ve compiled it. And you don’t have to keep the old articles on your hard drive “just in case.” All of the topics in a help file are stored on a single rtf file. So the material is always there, neatly stored, for when you want to compile the help file again.
System Requirements and Limitations
Shalom Help Maker runs on all versions of Windows. The help file created by Shalom Help Maker can be up to 2 gigabytes, and there seems to be no practical limit on how many files you can include in a help file. While each topic, or page, is limited to just over 16,000 characters, most articles and essays fall well below this limit. If you want to add longer articles or essays to a help file, just split them into two or three parts.
Sometimes, something created to do one thing can also serve another purpose. While Shalom Help Maker was created to be a help compiler, it has also turned out to be a great Personal Information Manager.