Re: Creating help for Win 31 *and* Win95

Subject: Re: Creating help for Win 31 *and* Win95
From: David Marcus & Peggy Lamberson <zorro -at- NETDEPOT -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 17 Apr 1996 13:01:45 -0400

In email on Tue, 16 Apr 1996 16:20:11 -0800, TREVOR -at- MDLI -dot- COM wrote:

| You may be interested in the following document, which I recently
| circulated in-house to explain why my group plans to NOT offer
| any Win95-specific help functionality for our next application
| running on Win31, Win95, Mac, and SGI. (Doc is edited for
| external use.)

| -------------------------------------------

| 1. CONTENTS TAB: This is what you see when you first choose
| Help>Help Topics and is one of the most visible changes to the
| end user. For our existing help files, it creates a number of
| problems:

| e. According to Joe Welinske (of WinWriters; publisher of
| "WinHelp" magazine and coordinator of the WinHelp Conference):
| "Although the Contents tab can work with Win31 files running
| under Win95, it is hard to envision how the same help system can
| be constructed to be effective with and without a Contents file."

| In summary, unless a help file is redesigned from the outset to
| work with a Contents tab, the end result can be LESS effective
| for the end user. An effective Contents tab would require
| creating and maintaining two concurrent sets of help source
| files. This would create unnecessary logistical problems and be
| great time sink. We plan to keep our existing (and usability
| tested) ToCs.

I've just been struggling with this issue. I find it annoying that F1 in our
w95 application goes to "my" TOC but the Contents button on the tool bar
goes to the Contents tab. I'm going to live with that one for now, though.

Our help files are created directly from our user documentation with the
addition of a front-end chapter that is a carefully crafted TOC for the help
system (and also has some special topics not in the paper doc). For us, the
Contents tab will allow people to "browse the book" and so we've decided to
use it (while using the same help file on both platforms). The only change
we've made is to change the name of our ToC page to "Contents (by Topic)".


David Marcus
Documentation Manager
IQ Software Corporation

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