Using Acrobat and Help in Proprietary Software?

Subject: Using Acrobat and Help in Proprietary Software?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, "Loren R. Elks" <lelks -at- exstream -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2006 10:14:41 -0400

Loren R. Elks wondered: <<Our C++ product is set up so that you can get context sensitive help. Customers can press F1 on any screen and an Acrobat window opens to the page in our documentation that contains information detailing what the user sees. Does any one else out there use Software to PDF links in a Windows environment? How do you affirm that your links are correct and in working order? Are there any programs that could help automate these processes?>>

I don't use PDF in this way, but when I created online help, manually testing the links was part of the QA process. This took two steps: First, the programmers took the topic IDs I gave them and applied their own reality check, occasionally asking me whether I was really sure about a particular choice. So we had two sets of eyes looking over the initial selection of topics. Second, I went through the software and tested every Help button to confirm it went to the right place.

Although you can easily automate the testing of links in tools such as RoboHelp, it's important to remember that this only tells you about broken links and orphaned topics. Until automated link testers can parse the context and content of each help call (i.e., until they can semantically compare the contents of a dialog box or software feature with the contents of the linked help topic), there's no substitute for human testing--and your tester has to drink lots of coffee or take other measures to stay alert to ensure that they don't let their eyes glaze over and end up doing nothing more than testing _the existence_ of links rather than their relevance.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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