different types of links, OS/2 IPF

Subject: different types of links, OS/2 IPF
From: mpriestley -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 1994 18:44:52 EST

Bonni responds:
>Michael notes:
> "Example: user highlights OK button, selects Help for it. Generic
> help for "OK" appears. User is still confused, presses the F2 key;
> help for the whole dialog (non-generic help) appears."

> end of original post

> Good point -- I was, however, speaking of a hypertext backward link,
> which is different from a key-press backward link like you describe.
> Thanks for the note though -- is this a specific thing you have to
> code or does it come naturally with IPF?

This comes naturally with IPF - or as naturally as anything else. When you
hook up the help to an actual piece of the application, you do so in a big
table organized by window (with subtables holding the id's for each control
within the window). Even if the same contextual help is used in multiple
subtables, each instance of its use is linked to the window the control
appears in, and therefore to help for the window.

Hope that wasn't too muddy...

As far as hypertext links being different from key-press links, however, I'm
not sure how important the difference is. In this case the link has
functionality equivalent to that of a hypertext link, the only difference is
that it isn't actually in the form of "clickable text". Access is also
provided via a menu choice, and could probably be provided via button as
well. In some sense I think it's good to get as many links as possible into
generic form and out of the actual text (eg: General help, Previous topic,
Back-to-start (TOC)), to keep the actual text as uncluttered as possible.

What do other people think? Another thing I've just started to use more is
"auto-linking": pulling up an extra panel of information automatically when
I think the user will usually want it. As an example: The General help for
a window can be accessed either directly from the application, or via a link
from somewhere else (eg the TOC). If it's from the TOC, the user will
probably want instructions on how to get to the window (ie not just help on
how to use the window, but help on how to access it in the first place).
I didn't want that information in the General help itself, because it would
just be annoying when the user already has the window open. So, for TOC
links, I include an auto-link to navigation instructions for reaching the

I haven't seen what the users' reaction is yet (just to put a damper on my
own enthusiasm), but hopefully they won't even really notice, just find the
help easier to use. Got my fingers crossed....

Anyway, I hope my thoughts aren't too IPF-specific. Unfortunately it's the
only help-authoring system I've used (I'm pretty new to the field).

Looking forward to reactions/constructive criticisms/thoughts in general,

Michael Priestley
mpriestley -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com

Disclaimer: I don't have opinions, so how can they be confused with those of
my employer? Danger: do not get me wet. Do not feed me. Lurkers are cute,
fuzzy little creatures, but appearances can be deceiving. No refunds.

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