Re: HTML context sensitive help

Subject: Re: HTML context sensitive help
From: David Blyth <dblyth -at- QUALCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 5 Nov 1996 14:52:13 -0700

>Is it possible to create context-sensitive online documentation using
>HTML? I'm thinking of the user in the GUI application. This user doesn't
>understand a task or a GUI screen element so s/he presses a 'Help'
>button, or chooses 'Help' from a menu and an HTML-based window opens
>automatically providing help on the task or GUI screen element which the
>user didn't understand.

Keith, does it specifically have to be HTML? Or would you mind
creating online docs with Javascript? What HTML can't do, Javascript,
Java, Active X (and so on) often can.

>Does anyone have experience implementing this type of documentation?
>Suggestions/advice will be greatly appreciated.

Sort of. I'm having trouble find material on the subject myself
and am beginning to wonder if it just isn't there (and needs to
be created).

My immediate suggestions are:

o You may need to settle for something that's similar to but
not exactly context-sensitive help (but the Web has different
paradyms anyway).

o Take a look at some of the Netscape Plug-ins. Some of them
can be used to control applications from inside Web pages.
Instead of calling the help file from the app, you may find
it easier to call the app from the HTML help file.

o Read my notes at

The icons are blurry, and the writing style needs some work. But
there seemed enough interest out there that I decided to post it
before everything was perfect (so expect mistakes!).

I'll be happy to collate anything people find out there and post it
at the site. Also, I'll post whatever I've got already. (I don't
get paid for this, so it may take a day or two...).

Hope this helps.

David (The Man) Blyth
Technical Writer & Web Site Designer

The usual disclaimers apply - QUALCOMM isn't that crazy.

Blodo Poa Maximus

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