Re: Query: Users of ForeHelp?

Subject: Re: Query: Users of ForeHelp?
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- STARBASECORP -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 1995 17:36:30 -0700

Ron writes...

> Hi Sue:
> I'm curious: Did you call FH tech support? I have found them to most helpful
> with any problems I have encountered since I began using the program.

No, I must admit that I did not call the nice folks at ForeFront
(why do I keep wanting to call them ForePlay ;^) ???) with the
problems I mentioned in my last post. In both cases, the problems
occurred just before product release and I did not have the time
to wait for them to wave their magic wands over my files. I know
that, had I asked, they would have been happy to fix things.

> I'm curious as to why you would bother footnoting a help system. I would
> think you could you some hypertext link such as a pop-up more effectively.
> Footnotes, it seems to me, are text-oriented vehicles that would bog down a
> help system. I am interested in hearing why you used them.

What I was referring to was the footnotes that the help compiler
uses to translate the .rtf into a help file. The help file is,
after all, just a document formatted in a specific way. For those
of you who are curious, the footnotes and their uses are...

$ Topic Title
# Topic_Context_String (no spaces allowed)
K Keywords (appear in search engine, separate with semicolons)
+ Browse sequence
! Topic Macro (executes when topic is opened)

There are a few others, but they're relatively obscure.

So, to explain the footnote reference in my last post...
My help file is designed so that all procedural topics
appear in secondary windows and have close buttons in the
banner. This poses a problem when the user wants to search
for a procedural topic because the search engine always
brings up the desired topic in the main window.

To get around this, you create a blank (no text) topic
that has $ # K and ! footnotes. The K footnote contains the
keywords for the procedural topic and the $ footnote has
a topic name that makes sense in the search context. The !
footnote has two macros defined, a JI macro that calls
the procedural topic into the secondary window, and a
Back() macro to return to the previous topic so you
don't leave the user staring at a blank screen.
(OOOPS... I think Back goes first!)

to bring the secondary window with its procedural topic
to the top of the heap, you insert a ! footnote with a
FocusWindow macro in it.

Having an authoring tool that allows you to edit the
footnotes manually means that I can cut and paste the
!FocusWindow macro to the beginning of all my procedural
topics without going thru umpty-bizzillion menu picks
and dialog boxes to create the "footnote" in each topic.
You see... I'm basically lazy, so I *always* take the
easy way out... But, then again, I'm a perfectionist, so...
To my way of thinking, the *best* programs are the ones
that make it easy to be perfect!!! ;-)

> By the way, I think this is the type of subject that will interest everyone,
> and I especially like your comments, so please send them to the list.

Posted as requested, Ron... And thanks for the kind words!

Sue Gallagher
StarBase Corp, Irvine CA
sgallagher -at- starbasecorp -dot- com

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