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Sharon O'Neill wondered: <<I have a customer who wants me to create a
different online help system from the usual ones. He wants me to change
the TOC. He wants buttons on the bottom left-hand-side of the online
help window which control what you see in the online help treeview
displayed directly above these buttons. So say for example he has a
module called 'Personnel', he wants the TOC treeview for 'Personnel'
online help displayed in the top left-hand-side of the online help
window when the user clicks on the 'Personnel' button at the bottom
left-hand-side of the window and if he has another module called
'Recruitment', he wants the TOC treeview to change to the 'Recruitment'
online help when the user clicks on the 'Recruitment' button.>>
Personally, I'd make the help context-sensitive so that you get the
help for the module you're currently using, with no need to click any
buttons. If the software is at all well-designed, it's going to be
pretty rare that anyone will want the Personnel help while you're in
the Recruitment module (and vice versa). For those rare times, provide
a link at the top of each TOC to the other help files.
If you've got to build this the way you've described, then the best
solution is to do this directly in the software interface. No muss, no
fuss, no bother. Then simply link from the buttons to the relevant TOC.
Should take the programmers about 5 minutes to do, including testing.
Of course, that's in the real world; in the fantasy world of software
development, it might not be that easy. That being the case:
No idea how to do this elegantly, but here's a really simple kludge:
create a table at the _top_ of each page that will appear in the left
window, with each cell containing a hyperlink to the appropriate
section of the help. Think of this as similar to the navigation bar at
the top of a typical Web page. Define that table as being part of the
non-scrolling region so it stays at the top of the window even if users
scroll down. (You might be able to do this at the bottom of the window
too... I've been away from Help technologies for too long. In any
event, putting it at the top ensures that users see it right from the
start, and you can make a case for this design based on the fact that
it's a common Web convention.)
Next, format the table so each cell looks like a button (e.g., color it
and add the button text), then hyperlink the button to the appropriate
TOC. So in your example, there'd be one cell for Personnel and one for
Recruitment. Next, create one TOC for Personnel and another for
Recruitment. When you click the button to display one of the two TOCs,
you load a new page containing that TOC, with the buttons (i.e., the
navigation bar table) at the top and the button for that TOC
highlighted in such a way that it looks like the button has been
pressed. Click the other button and you load the TOC for the other
module, with the navigation bar/table at the top, and you get the same
result, only with the other button down.