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Is Dreamweaver crashing when you try to use Help? Here's a solution

Note: This blog post is from 2007. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
For months now, I've found that when I tried to use the help feature in Dreamweaver (8 or MX 2004), it would crash, with an "unhandled Win32 exception". If this has happened to you, there is a quick and easy solution.

The problem turns out to be IE7. That explains why, for me, it was such a mystery. I don't use DW help much at all and have had both DW 8 and 2004 installed for over a year, so when trying to use help suddenly failed in recent months, I couldn't for the life of me connect the dots to resolve the problem. I searched the web and the Adobe site in particular, all to no avail.

Solution in an Adobe Technote

Finally, I posted the question on a DW forum and David Alcala of Adobe DW Quality Engineering responded pointing out this technote. (Thanks again, David!)

Update: As is often the case in a blog entry written years ago, the link above no longer works. In the vein of "teaching a man to fish", please note that when that happens, you ought to go to archive.org, and on the front page enter the URL in question. Often it will find old copies of the page. In the case of the URL above, a version of the technote from 2009 can be found here.

It explains an incompatibility between a certain DW DLL and IE 7. As it explains, the latter came out after the former, so it's forgivable. It goes on to say that affects more those using Windows 2003 Server and 64-bit XP, but I was having the problem on 32-bit XP. And while it refers just to Dreamweaver 8, I tested the fix on Dreamweaver MX 2004 and it works for that as well. Good news!

But I have Firefox as my primary browser

And if anyone's wondering, it doesn't seem to matter if you have Firefox set as your primary browser, either in Windows or even in the Preview in Browser feature of DW. In both cases, I have FF set as primary and yet I suffered this problem. If anyone knows another way to control DW using IE for help, perhaps that would explain why only some get this problem.

Anyway, hope that helps someone else.

PS I happen to have MS Visual Studio 2005 installed, which intercepts the error and offers to run the JIT debugger. So it's possible that the error I get ("unhandled Win32 exception") is different from what one gets if they DON'T have it installed. But as the Adobe technote says, it does cause DW to crash, and that's what matters most. Since the technote doesn't offer the specific error message I was getting (or any other), I hope this blog entry may be found by others searching as I did. And I'm removing Visual Studio to see what error one gets when it's not installed. If the message is different, I'll come back and update this blog entry.

Update: ok, if the JIT debugger is not setup to handle errors, then instead one gets the "good ol'" windows prompt to "send error report". The top line of the window (in case someone searches to find this) is "Dreamweaver MX 2004 has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience." If you use the "click here" to see details, the error is in appname:dreamweaver.exe modname:hhctrl.ocx

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hhctrl.ocx is an older ActiveX control popularly used with Visual Basic (though not exclusive - it is ActiveX after all) used for Microsoft "special" HTMLHelp kit.
There are numerous technotes at Microsoft regarding this control and it's various updates.

It might be sensible for Adobe to adopt as few platform specific underpinnings as possible so that they can maintain their OS portability more easily.
Who knows... maybe they will adopt the .NET successor to the control when it comes available...
# Posted By rish | 12/18/07 1:21 PM
Hi, Guy, long time no see. Great to see you here. As for your observation, let's do keep in mind that this is about the version of DW that's now 2 and even 3 generations old, going back a few years. Perhaps the latest, CS3, has resolved the issue in ways you discuss.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 12/18/07 2:31 PM
Thanks for the post--I don't know what I do without Dreamweaver.
# Posted By Dreamweaver Developer | 12/19/07 8:25 PM
I do not really use Dw's HELP, maybe I am used to search more for the informations I need on the web or maybe I just solve my problems by myself. The thing is that I have tried the older versions of Macromedia's Dreamweaver ( I think I have tested from version 4 [?!] till version 8 all DW solutions ) and I mostly use just the coder view now. I like to preview what I do and the designer view is perfect for that, it saves me a lot of time.

I have found out about this problem with HELP crashing only now and I will go check my DW's help as soon as I finish this comment...
# Posted By DMF | 1/8/08 2:24 AM
Thanks! The second (re: additional) solution listed in the Adobe TechNote you mentioned (above) worked like a charm!

An end-user, here at The University of Southern Maine was having problems with her Dreamweaver 8 program crashing EVERY time she tried open "Dreamweaver Help," etc. I went over there today, thinking I'd be able to take care of the problem by merely uninstalling and then reinstalling this older software. I even made sure to download all the current DW 8 updates (so she was now up to v8.0.2), all to no avail!

I then checked for all the "usual suspects" (i.e., spyware, unsupported programs installed, etc.), cleaned out all her temp/cache files, restarted her Dell laptop, but again, no luck! Fortunately, I eventually stumbled upon this fix, which did the trick! Thanks again!


P.S. I initially created my hokey-looking Web page over 12 years ago (in 1995)! I did it just using HTML and haven't made many changes since then (and it shows)! However, I'm going to enroll in some free DW workshops, here at USM, and eventually give it an updated look!
# Posted By Bob | 2/20/08 1:49 PM
Great to hear, Bob. And thanks for the kind words. As for your web page (accessible by clicking his name at the bottom of his comment), yep, it's quite the "throw back". Hey, if sports teams can regale in them, so too can an old-school web site. :-) Plus, don't the cobbler's children often lack for shoes? Cheers.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 2/20/08 3:52 PM
Worked for me after years of frustration with MX 2004. I don't often use it and so don't want to upgrade. The Adobe KB only refers to v8 which initially put me off the scent.

Thanks for the posting
# Posted By Neil Rathbone | 8/7/08 9:38 AM
Glad it helped. Thanks for the feedback, Neil.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 8/7/08 9:56 AM
suffering the same problem but with specific pages, dreamweaver CS3, windows 64 bit, have MS web developer 2008 installed and the problems began. Visual studios does not let me disable the JIT debugger since I only have the web developer version,
# Posted By Elizabeth | 5/30/09 11:01 AM
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.
Still using DW8, (I know, maybe this year) Saw link to this page in Google when I was searching for another issue because I have not been able to open DW Help without crashing program for as long as I can remember.
# Posted By Justin | 1/19/10 12:45 AM
Glad I could help, Justin. Thanks for the feedback.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 1/19/10 12:07 PM
I finally got tired of having Dreamweaver crash when I had the audacity to ask it a question instead of just searching the web for myself and I found your page. Unfortunately, you don't tell what the fix is for this problem, and the adobe page is gone (of course, they don't support Dreamweaver MX anymore anyway)

So, if you don't mind, could you please let me know what the fix for this is?


# Posted By Liz | 1/29/12 11:53 PM
To Liz and any others reading this blog entry from 2007, with respect to the Adobe Technote link that no longer works, please note that I have not only given you a link that lets you see the old technote, but I have also explained how you may be able to find such "missing web pages" in the future using archive.org.

As the old saying goes, "it's better to teach on to fish"... :-)
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 8/3/12 11:40 AM
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