Introduction to Apple Help Programming Guide

This document describes Apple Help, the HTML-based system for providing user assistance in OS X. Apple Help is the primary help system for OS X and is designed to deliver online topic-based user help, such as is often provided in user manuals and lists of frequently asked questions (FAQ). Carbon, Cocoa, and Java applications can use Apple Help in OS X.

Apple Help offers significant advantages over static help documents, such as Read Me files or manuals in PDF. The benefits of adopting Apple Help for user assistance include these:

When you use Apple Help, you can supply HTML-based user assistance and integrate it into your application with relatively little effort. Apple Help manages and displays help books; a help book is the collection of HTML files that constitute the user help for your software product, plus a help index file generated by the Help Indexer utility. When you supply a help book and register it with Apple Help, users can access your help from your user interface and view it in Help Viewer without any additional work on your part.

The Apple Help system includes these components:

Who Should Read This Document?

If you are creating an application, plug-in, or other software product for OS X with a user interface, you should read this document to learn how to create an Apple Help help book and display it in Help Viewer.

Organization of This Document

This document includes the following chapters and appendixes:

Availability

Help Viewer and the Apple Help API are available in OS X v10.0 and later. The Help Indexer tool is available in OS X v10.4 and later in /Developer/Applications/Utilities when the Developer package is installed.