Re: Help systems for Web applications/ASPs?

Subject: Re: Help systems for Web applications/ASPs?
From: Sella Rush <sellar -at- APPTECHSYS -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 1999 16:47:53 -0800

Hi Rebecca--

I'm in the same boat you are, so maybe we can give each other advice.

Here is what I've done. All of our scripting is server-side, so the client
gets only vanilla HTML. (I also have to support earlier browsers.)

1. Put instructions in the app. (You mentioned this.) Classic example of
the embedded help discussed in another thread.

2. Provide separate Help pages, and have the pages open in a separate,
non-maximized, browser window that the user can move or minimize. Kind of
like context sensitive help (although I've never researched if you can
control window size, I think you can).

3. This I've never tried because of browser limitations, but you could use
a frame to create a help viewing section (also related to the embedded help
discussion). Without client side scripting, you could only populate this
frame when a user opens an application page or clicks a help button, but it
could still be effective.

If you want a (rather lame) example, check out a product demo on our web
site. Just remember, it is, as Blue Sky puts it, "early experience"!

All three of these solutions are possible with server-side scripting only.
They are pretty mundane as a result. Also, I think we're bound by the kind
of help we're used to--WinHelp. Maybe its time to get more creative.

Sella Rush
mailto:sellar -at- apptechsys -dot- com
Applied Technical Systems (ATS)
Bremerton, Washington
Developers of the CCM Database

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