Re: WinHELP Philosophy

Subject: Re: WinHELP Philosophy
From: "James M.Lockard" <norton -at- MCS -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 07:53:58 -0600

Tim Altom writes,

"A manual is linear, not because it has to be read in a linear order, but
because it CAN BE. Its intrinsic structure is a stack. Indexes and other
search aids are to overcome the limitations of the stack, not to create
faux hypertext links."

Sorry, but many electronic documents can be read linearly as well. Whether
a document is linear or hypertextual does not depend exclusively on its
medium of presentation.

Think of it as a continuum in which on one side you have linear documents
and, on the other, pure hypertext. A novel is highly linear, a paper-based
lies somewhere closer to the middle, and winhelp closer to being pure
hypertext. Linear documents are read sequentially. Hypertextual documents
are read dynamically. Have you ever flipped back a few dozen pages to check
a "see also" reference in a paper manual? Congratulations! You just made a
hypertext link. And without a computer.

The reason most have so much trouble disconnecting hypertext with the PC is
that hypertext can be so much more elegant and powerful in an electronic
document.

Let's not confine ourselves to the narrow view that hypertext is something
you create with RoboHelp or Doc-to-Help.

James Lockard
norton -at- mcs -dot- net

"I meant what I said, and I said what I meant."
-- Horton the Elephant


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