RE: Context-sensitive help - HTML help and VB application

Subject: RE: Context-sensitive help - HTML help and VB application
From: "Glenn Maxey" <glenn -dot- maxey -at- voyanttech -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2001 10:34:20 -0600

Hi Alyssa,

First thing you and your developer need to agree on is the definition of
context-sensitive help.

If your definition is "the help system starts when called from the help
pull-down menu or from a 'help' button in a dialog box," no problem. It can
be done as you say.

If your definition is "clicking on the question mark in a dialog box and
then on a dialog box field opens a pop-up with information specific to that
field," problem. (But not without work-arounds.)

This latter definition is probably what the developer is thinking. RoboHelp
and ForeHelp assist in enabling this functionality sometimes through hybrid
WinHelp/HTML-Help systems. Pop-up's are in WinHelp while the main topics are
in HTML-Help. Why? Because HTML by itself doesn't support this.

IMHO, such pop-up happy context-sensitive help is mostly useless. For a
dialog box with, say, eight fields, the reader may have to click 16 times
just to get all of the information about that dialog box. You'll waste all
of your time implementing it and less time writing content. Too often, what
is written is "the Fritz checkbox turns on and off the settings for Fritz."
Nary does it say when to use Fritz or what would be valid. </rant>

You'll be better off if you can agree on the first definition. It'll be
easier to implement for all involved parties, and easier for the user.

Then it is merely a matter of getting the developers to call the right API
and of mapping their context ideas to your more reader-friendly HTML topic

Stick to your guns. Your readers will thank you.

Glenn Maxey
Voyant Technologies, Inc.
Tel. +1 303.223.5164
Fax. +1 303.223.5275
glenn -dot- maxey -at- voyanttech -dot- com

> -----Original Message-----
> From: bounce-techwr-l-58477 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
> [mailto:bounce-techwr-l-58477 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com]On Behalf Of Alyssa Fox
> Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2001 9:45 AM
> Subject: Context-sensitive help - HTML help and VB application
> Hello everyone,
> I am faced with the task of creating context-sensitive help for a Visual
> Basic application. I am using FrameMaker and WebWorks Publisher to convert
> the Frame files to HTML files. I want a strict HTML help system.
> A developer
> and I have been arguing over whether or not it's possible to create a
> context-sensitive HTML help system with a VB application.
> A couple of questions:
> 1. Is it possible to create a context-sensitive help system using
> HTML Help
> (converted from Frame files by WebWorks)? Have any of you ever done this?
> 2. If it is possible, I wouldn't think it's more than a simple case of
> matching topic IDs in the code and in the Frame files. Am I mistaken?
> Thanks for all your help,
> Alyssa


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