What you are describing is often known as "What's This" help. Basically, the user clicked a question mark on the dialog, then clicked the area of interest and up popped a text description of the area of interest in a tooltip.
Unfortunately it fell out of favor a few years back so you don't see many applications that offer it. There used to be some that the Windows operating system offered. Can't find any at the moment to use as an example.
RoboHelp does offer a What's This help tool. Click File > New > What's This Help Project to see it. I'm not sure how effective it is. I only know about its presence. I've never used it to create this type of help.
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Thanks for the fast reply.
Yes, that would be one option for me, however the What;s This help composer scans the application you are creating the help for, and attaches a "topic" to each window or section in it, where you can add info. It's not quite working freely and adding the pop-ups where i would want.
Another thing is, I thought perhaps I could make it look similar to the mouseover messages you get on any website if you hover over an image or a particular section. I would like this help to be as minimalistic as possible, and require as little 'action' from the user as possible - in the sense that they don't need to press or open anything.
However, having only created chm and html help (in already existing projects) in RoboHelp 8, I realized that I know very little about other functionalities, like creating screen tips or tooltips, or any other similar pop ups. I read through the help and forum topics, but I can't find a recipe for this kind of output.
For another possible output, my managers suggested creating something similar to what facebook has. Of course, there is no way you can find out what tools they use (or at least google did not help me much). Do you happen to know if anything similar to that can be created with RoboHelp 8? The application is web-based . Thank you again!!
Yeah, something like that would probably totally in the developer's realm to create. Perhaps you could create the verbiage, but I'm not thinking there is anything RoboHelp would do that would help you achieve that sort of help.
For anyone reading this thread today or in the future, here is what "FaceBook Help" looks like:
Click images below for larger view.
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Thanks Rick! Well, i'm kind of stuck then... If we put aside the way the information is structured - categories, question and answers - can I at least make it look similar? I mean open in the same window (tab) as the application and at start only display TOC and search?
Do you think maybe the AIR help would be more suitable? I am just experimenting, as I have never created AIR help before. The first problem I encountered is the fact that you cannot add your own output skin. You can chose from a few predefined ones, but while if you create Webhelp you can add your own skin (it appears in the gallery), this option is not available in AIR help, as far as i can tell. I can see, that there is a skin editor in RoboHelp 9 for AIr help, however I still do not know if you can add an existing skin.
As far as I can tell, the AIR help does not open in a separate browser window or tab, but will overlaps (part of) the application, depending on the pre-configured size of the help dialog.
One more question, (I hope i am not jamming too much into this one post, please tell me if I should move to a new thread): the application I am creating the help for is web-based, but it will also be available on tablets. Will the AIR help work? Or the Webhelp? Thank you!
Sorry to be sporadic with replies. I'm facilitating a RoboHelp class this week and time is sparse.
Personally, I avoid AIR help for the following reasons.
- The AIR runtime must first be installed on whatever device you are using it on
- The AIR package containing the help must then be installed
- It requires a digital certificate in order to work
Note that browser based AIR help doesn't have the same issues.
What you described about wanting help to look and behave like Facebook help would mean a dramatic change to the way RoboHelp creates files. So if that's your real goal, it's all in the developer's realm and not yours. Nothing I can think of to suggest for that.
As far as tablets go, if they are able to present a browser linking to a web site, things *MIGHT* work. You will have to test and see. But if you use FlashHelp or web based AIR help, you are still having Flash player in the picture and iPad and iPhone devices don't *DO* flash. If these devices only use HTML5, you are shot again because WebHelp is presently presented using a frameset and HTML 5 doesn't *DO* framesets.
There is a limited skin editor for AIR Help in RH9 - it allows you to take a standard layout and customize the colours and icons on it. However, you can't add or remove any design elements on the layout.
Locally-installed AIR Help does launch in its own screen and can be resized to cover as much or as little of the app that launched it. The digital certificate required can be "made up" by you, but it appears to users as an "unsigned" application - they have to know that your help is ok to be installed on their workstation. I'm not sure of how browser-based AIR Help behaves with the launching/resizing (my guess would be, probably in the same way).
Hi and thank you both for taking time to answer my questions! I really appreciate it! It seems that I cannot find a real solution for the time. As you said, Rick, I will probably try and convince the developers to build the structure for the "facebook-style" help, otherwise I see that RoboHelp help (i know.. ) will present with problems on tablets as well.
Anyways, thank you and I will post back if I'll have any breakthrough on the matter.
Have a great weekend! Zita
Just one more thing, I have been looking at the new features in RoboHelp 9 (thinking of upgrading from RoboHelp 8, but not sure if worth it) and I ran across this:
It looks to me, that here you can insert a .skn file (already customized) and apply it. In roboHelp 8, the Gallery button doesn't even exist. So, this might be a step ahead, right?
Sorry, this is where I found the screenshot:
in the chapter describing AIR help. I am not sure it would help me, as per the problems You described above, but it is still good to know if it really works.
I promise, my last post for the day!
I only just discovered the ePub output (by going through the same RoboHelp Reviewers Guide (link above). Do you think this is a good solution for handheld devices? Does ePub need a separately downloaded plugin as well?
Anyways, I don't see it as a good solution... I will give WebHelp another go, eventhough I am not at all pleased with it...
Have a great weekend guys!
What you pointed out using the screen capture is what Jeff tried to tell you about version 9. There are a few skins, but all you can really do is choose what is offered as far as layout and modify the colors to a rather limited extent and choose different icons used in the skin. There is no skin editor in the sense that you are able to completely design a skin from the ground up. Sorry.
Just a hint for you. Keep your ear to the ground and watch for some future announcement regarding RoboHelp 10. It may have some features you are looking for. I know your need appears to be immediate and only Adobe knows when RoboHelp 10 will be released, but who knows, it it might just offer you some compelling reasons to upgrade when you see what it contains.
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There are five skins in the gallery and as already indicated you can customise those. What you cannot do is create your own skins from scratch.
Not too sure about ePUB as I have only looked at creating it and not putting it onto a device. I will try and find out more next week.
See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips
ePUB only requires e-book reader software to be installed – most tablets & mobile devices already have it built in. But ePUB is a pretty “flat” format – mostly text, no real actions, limited graphics.
ePub is very similar to PDF in that respect, no?
I have to admit that when Adobe announced the ability with version 8 to create ePub I was left scratching my head. I heard things such as it being "revolutionary". And while it was cool that we could easily produce something that runs on mobile devices, I was stymied by the hoopla saying the "big deal" was something called "reflow". And they tried to make me swoon by showing me how if the device changed or the dimensions changed the text "seamlessly reflowed" to accommodate the new dimensions.
And I was still stymied because I saw basic HTML do that every day. So what was the big deal?
Then it finally occurred to me that PDF doesn't behave in the same way. LOL
The takeaway here is that one should never try to impress an old HTML person with reflow capability. It will be totally lost on them!
Cheers all... Rick
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Well, sort of – PDFs can actually have a bunch of bells & whistles in them that ePUB can’t – stuff like 3D CAD drawings that you can manipulate (on screen of course; on paper they’re still just as flat as ePUB text).
The reflow capability comes from the XML based nature of ePUBs.
LOL, I really could care less where the reflow capability comes from. For someone that has seen HTML "properly reflow" when the browser is resized, it's laughable to think it's something that would be "knock your socks off" cool, no?
I guess it might be if all you had ever seen was PDF and struggled with trying to read one on a three inch screen.
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