Welcome toHelpDeco V2.1
HelpDeco is a decompiler for Windows HLP files and multimedia titles. It proves this way that this description of the Windows HLP file format is correct.
HELPDECO.ZIP contains the 16/32 bit command line application HELPDECO.EXE and the SPLITMRB.EXE and ZAPRES.EXE utilities
HELPDC21.ZIP contains all the above including the source and file format description
Several Windows programs are available to control HelpDeco
Help Decompiler Shell from Franco Papassissa.
HELPDECO Command Program Launcher from Ian Duff.
HlpDecoGUI from Dipak Auddy.
A short description of the program:
HELPDECO.EXE dissects HLP help files of Windows 3.0, 3.1, 3.11, and '95 and many MVB multi media viewer titles into all files required for a rebuild using the appropriate help compiler HC30, HC31, HCP, HCW, HCRTF, WMVC, MMVC or MVC:
Call HELPDECO from MS-DOS command line. Supply the name of help file to use, optional name of internal file, and options if appropriate. HELPDECO runs from Windows 95 or Windows NT command line as 32-bit application to handle larger help files.
Decompiles help file into all sources needed for a rebuild. All files are created in current directory (should be empty). Existing files will be overwritten without asking if option /y was specified. Options may be appended to the command, separated using blanks, as follows:
May be used to stop parsing macros for topic names. Help compiler will emit Warning 4131.
May be used to stop resolving browse sequences. Help source file than contains no + footnotes.
Turns off time consuming guessing of context names. Applicable when HELPDECO reports 'no context ids found' or when you are not interested in legible context ids. This doesn't affect functionality. During guessing HELPDECO tries to reconstruct context ids from topic titles and keywords. This may produce good results on some help files and no result at all on others, depending on autoring tool used or working method of help author.
If you want to see which context ids are guessed by HELPDECO...
HELPDECO tries to guess context ids from topic titles and keywords, possibly prefixed by idh_ or helpid_. If the help file was created using other prefixes, they may be added to the table using the /h prefix option.
Adds all annotations from annotationfile as annotations of user ANN into RTF file. Default annotationfilename is helpfilename.ANN.
Splits output every n pages into a separate RTF file. For example HELPDECO helpdemo /s 100 decompiles helpdeco.hlp and creates different RTF files helpdem1.rtf, helpdem2.rtf,.. each containing no more than 100 topics.
HELPDECO helpfilename /r
Converts help file into RTF file of same appearance if loaded into WinWord as if displayed by WinHelp. To print or work with complete content. Specify additional option /n, if no page breaks should separate topics.
HELPDECO helpfilename /c
Generates a *.CNT file used by WinHlp32, containing all chapters that have titles assigned in the order they appear in the helpfile. This file should then be edited using HCW 4.00 or any text editor into a hierarchical order.
HELPDECO helpfilename /e
Lists all references to external help files.
HELPDECO helpfilename /e /f
Lists all references to external help files and titles of topics that contained these references.
HELPDECO helpfilename /p
Checks references to external help files. Referenced help file need to be available to HELPDECO. This call doesn't produce any new files and doesn't modify existing files. Errors are reported to stdout (screen).
HELPDECO helpfilename /d
Displays internal directory of help file. You may supply a *.MVB,*.M??, *.ANN,*.CAC,*.AUX file instead of a *.HLP file.
HELPDECO helpfilename /x
Displays hex dump of internal directory
HELPDECO helpfilename "internalfilename"
Displays internal file in appropriate format if known, else hex dump. You may redirect output into a file using >outfile.
HELPDECO helpfilename "internalfilename" /x
Displays hex dump of internal file
HELPDECO helpfilename "internalfilename" /x /t offset
Displays hex dump of internal file starting at offset, which may be specified in decimal or preceeded with 0x in hex.
HELPDECO helpfilename "internalfilename" filename
Exports internal file into filename
*.ANN, *.CAC, *.AUX
These files are formatted like helpfiles, but HELPDECO can only be used to display their internal directory or display or export internal files.
HELPDECO was written by Manfred Winterhoff, Geschw.-Scholl-Ring 17, 38444 Wolfsburg, Germany
If you have more questions, problems (or answers!), please feel free to send me an eMail to email@example.com
HELPDECO is based upon HELPDUMP from Pete Davis published in: The Windows Help File Format, Dr. Dobbs Journal, Sep/Oct 1993
Thanks to Holger Haase, who did a lot of work on picture file formats.
And thanks to Jürgen Müller for pointing out 32-bit differences.
Thanks to Bent Lynggaard for the information on help file free lists and his contribution on context id guessing.
See HELPFILE.TXT for a description of the Windows help file format as parsed by HELPDECO and related file formats like MRB/SHG.
The newest public version of HELPDECO is always available at my home page:
HELPDECO is freeware. Use at your own risk. No part of the program may be used commercially. No fees may be charged on distributing the program (shareware distributors keep off).
The use of parts of decompiled help files may constitute a violation of copyright law.
Version 1.9: faster & better than ever...
Version 1.8: used some spare days to clean up the to-do list...
Version 1.6 can now check references to external help files plus:
Version 1.4 fixes some bugs reported by different users:
Version 1.2 fixes some severe bugs introduced in version 1.1 and:
Version 1.1 now supports more features of Win95/HCRTF 4.00/WinHlp32: