When using Books Online's Search Plus feature that ships with Visual C++ on
Windows 95 and Windows NT version 3.51, WinHlp32.exe creates index files
that take several minutes to generate. The index files created will only
search the text of the selected book. This article describes how to
configure Books Online to search multiple books simultaneously.
A contents (.CNT) file is used to specify all the help files you wish to
search. This will create full text search (.FTS) files for each file you
wish to include in your regular searches. Subsequent access to Books Online
searches will not regenerate the .FTS files.
Below is an example (VC20BKS1.CNT) which you can use with Books Online
To make your .FTS files
:index Book 1, Users Guide = vc20bks1.hlp
:index Book 2, What's New, MFC = vc20bks2.hlp
:index Book 3, C/C++ = vc20bks3.hlp
:index Book 4, Win32 API = vc20bks4.hlp
:index Book 5, OLE 2.0 SDK = vc20bks5.hlp
:index Book 6, ODBC = vc20bks6.hlp
:index Book 7, Extensions (68K Porting) & Miscellaneous = vc20bks7.hlp
:index VC++ Knowledge Base Articles = Win32kb.hlp
- Place VC20BKS1.CNT in your \msvc20\help directory.
- Delete any related .FTS and .GID files. They may be in your \msvc20\help
directory, your <windows>\help directory on Windows 95, or your
<windows> directory on Windows NT. (The .GID files are hidden.)
- Make sure you have copies of all of the Visual C++ Books Online help
files in your local directory. They are named VC20BKS[1-7].HLP.
- From Books Online's Contents, select "How to Use Books Online."
- Click the Search Plus button, which takes you into the Help Wizard.
- Select the Customize search capabilities option, and then click the Next
- From the list of books, select the books you wish to keep .FTS files on.
Click the Next button in this and subsequent pages until finished. Note
that depending on subsequent choices, the .FTS files can occupy a great
deal of disk space and take several minutes to generate.
Here are examples of .FTS file sizes and build times for Visual C++ version
"Don't include phrase searching" Default Selections
Size (bytes) Size (bytes)
Book 1 832,512 3,088,384
Book 2 1,816,578 7,212,544
Book 3 1,228,800 4,493,312
Book 4 3,235,328 13,166,080
Book 5 974,336 3,645,952
Book 6 420,864 1,806,848
Book 7 1,349,632 4,228,512
KB Articles 932,352 3,481,600
approx. build time 7 min. 11 min.
: These files were generated on a P5-90. The sizes may vary depending
on your path and options selected. When building using the "Don't include
phrase searching" option, a VC20BKS1.FTG file will also be generated which
is 4,911,104 bytes.
If you change the contents of the .CNT file, you will have to repeat the
steps and delete the existing .FTS and .GID files.
Using a contents (.CNT) file allows you to add other Help files to your
Books Online full text search. This will not give you additional F1 search
You can remove the index (.IND) files from the \mscv20\help directory when
running on Windows NT 3.51 and later. These indices are only used by the
Help system included with earlier versions of Windows NT. They are no
All searches are forward searches. For example, if you select book 3 before
you begin your search, you will not pick up items in book 2. Thus, if you
want to search all books, you must select the "How to Use Books Online"
selection in the Contents window.
For more information the Win32 help system, refer to the Win32 Software
Development Kit (SDK) documentation.