Re: Help Files for the Mac

Subject: Re: Help Files for the Mac
From: Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- jci -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 09:13:51 -0500

>Before investing in Apple hardware & SDK, consider delivering the help as
flat HTML to be viewed in the system >browser.

Original poster has a mac, and the Apple Help SDK is free, so there's no

Having said that, and also acknowledging that Apple's proprietary help
system is the slickest, cooolest help system I've ever seen or used
(complete with launching applications, drawing "highlighter" circles and
changing menu item colors to augment the help text) it would seem that
Apple is once again backing off of leading-edge design and moving toward
LCD (lowest common denominator) technology.

With the advent of OS X, Apple appears to be leaning more toward HTML/PDF
for help files (PDF support is built into the OS, so no reader is necessary
for basic PDF display). Since this is a new application, I expect it's OSX
native (or at least Carbon-based) so I'd advise heading for HTML as the
help system. IE ships with every Mac, but it may or may not be preferred by
the user (Netscape also ships with every Mac, and there's a loyal following
for iCab there as well) so I'd stay away from anything that was explicitly
IE-dependent; it'll save you from making a lot of enemies. There's a great
deal of MS-hostility among Mac users; some will use MS products, some
consider making their Mac an MS-Free Zone to be a religious imperative. (As
for myself, I've willingly made an exception for IE; it's one of the most
standards-compliant browsers on the planet, unlike its Windows cousin.)

Have fun,
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 224

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.
Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.

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