Re: Providing fully customizable online Help

Subject: Re: Providing fully customizable online Help
From: John Cornellier <t_w -at- cornellier -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2002 16:32:42 +0200

If you're constrained by using CHM the I don't think it's likely (as your experience shows) that users
will develop in native CHM.

One solution is to build links in the compiled help files to pre-defined addresses of plain HTML files --
either HTTP addresses or relative file paths. E.g. a link that points to usrhlp/index.html. The users can
then edit the HTML file in whatever editor they like, add links, and build up the system from there. Or
is that too simplistic?

Depending on your resources you could probably outsource the development of MS Word Basic code which
would plugin to the user's Word installation as a template and enable the output of online help which
could integrate with your app.

John Cornellier

2002-09-17 23:41:39, "Lorraine Butchart" <Lorraine -dot- Butchart -at- corel -dot- com> wrote:

>I have become involved in a project creating a highly customizable
>content editor ("authoring environment"--how's that for
>marketing-speak), and part of what we want client developers/customizers
>to be able to customize is the online Help. The editor and its core Help
>file as shipped will be extremely basic, but customizers/developers will
>be able to create an end-use editor as simple or as complex as required
>for their situation or organization, complete with forms, dialog boxes,
>and menu commands that we would never have foreseen.
>Currently, we provide online Help in HTML (.chm) format with our
>products, and have in the past included brief instructions for using MS
>HTML Help Workshop to create a customized help file and merge it with
>our help file. This, however, can be a pretty unwieldy process for the
>average non-tech-writer to have to navigate alone--so much so that most
>customizers and developers haven't bothered to customize the help,
>leaving the end-use authors with little or no help using the product as
>customized. For this reason, we are hoping to find some format or tool
>that we can use to create truly customizable online Help, where
>customizers can add their own topics with a minimum of fuss. (Being able
>to annotate existing help topics or change the names of fields would not
>go far enough--we need client developers to be able to create entire
>topics and sub-topics.)
>Has anyone on the list worked on a similar project in the past? If so,
>how did you address this issue? I would appreciate any tips or guidance
>you can provide.
>Lorraine L. Butchart
>Documentation Specialist

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Providing fully customizable online Help: From: Lorraine Butchart

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