RE: Help for web application

Subject: RE: Help for web application
From: Paul Hanson <phanson -at- Quintrex -dot- com>
To: TechWrite List <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 3 Apr 2008 09:15:19 -0500

Well, the first thing you'll have to do is ditch chm files. You may end up with an uncompiled set of files. Most HATs offer that.

Scott DeLoach has several good presentations on his site. I attended some of his sessions at the 2004 Boston WinWriters session. This is one presentation that may start the ball rolling:

I think the key is to get in @ the ground floor. In my opinion, you want some sort of embedded pane. Page 6 of the above presentation shows it on the left - I prefer it on the right (like the way the Help window displays in Word 2003). You should be involved up front, advocating for a dedicated area for user assistance. Once you have that built into the design of the UI, then you can figure out tools and how to call what you write. The other element is that user assistance for a web-based app doesn't have to be a standard TOC/Index/Search separate system. It is possible to embed a majority of the user assistance into the app so that the user doesn't even have to go to the Help system. In fact, a user interface that requires no separate help system... well, that would be pretty cool.

Paul Hanson
Technical Writer
RoboHelp ACE -
Quintrex Data Systems
email: phanson at
Now blogging @

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+phanson=quintrex -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+phanson=quintrex -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Frank Dissinger

Which designs and techniques can I use? Help pane embedded in
application window? Button loading help file in separate window?
Popups? Are there any best practices or sample web pages?
Which tools should I use? How do I link topics with a web page?

Until now I have produced context-sensitive CHM files with FrameMaker
(V. 6.0) and WebWorks Publisher (V. 7.0.6). I am also considering the
use of Flare.

Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity!

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Help for web application: From: Frank Dissinger

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