Re: Help System See-Also loops

Subject: Re: Help System See-Also loops
From: Dianne Martin <MartinD -at- TRAVIS -dot- TYC -dot- STATE -dot- TX -dot- US>
Date: Tue, 5 Nov 1996 13:23:00 PST

The way that I use popups is to further define or describe one particular
item. For example, I will use popups to display a graphic of the dialog box
or message window (only if inaccessible from the program while the help is
running) being discussed. I also use popups to give a definition of a
symbol or button used that has a specific meaning.

I use secondary windows to thread through sub-topics with a specific browse
sequence for that set of topics. There are usually only See Also references
to related topics that are in the same browse sequence. Otherwise, I find
my users often travel off into never-never land and _never_ get back to the
main problem at hand.

I would start the help project over with a flow design. Then you can better
decide when to use popups and when to use secondary windows and what to
include in the See Also references.

Hope this helps!
Dianne Martin

Subject: Help System See-Also loops
Date: Tuesday, November 05, 1996 1:34PM

I'm fixing up a help system. Most of the topics have a see-also popup.
Now, in a lot of cases, the topics belong to logical groups. For example,
there are topics that describe each of the database commands, of which
there are maybe ten. Each of those topics has a unique see-also popup
that refers to all the other topics in the group. This means that there
are ten almost identical popups. The only difference between those popups
is that the popup for, for example "open_database" doesn't have a
reference to "open_database."
I could save a significant amount of effort if I just used the same
see-also popup for all the topics in a group. The see-also lists would be
less likely to miss a topic, since they would be complete lists of topic
groups. The only downside is that there would be these loops: you click
on see-also, and one of the options is the topic you are looking at. How
much pain do you think such a loop causes?

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