12 Replies Latest reply on Jan 15, 2015 3:16 AM by deneti

    Embedding Help content within an application

    deneti

      I am investigating possible methods of embedding Help content within an application, and wondered what experience people have of doing this. I would also be interested in the pros and cons of the various RoboHelp outputs for embedding Help

        • 1. Re: Embedding Help content within an application
          Jeff_Coatsworth Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          Really no differences in how to include Help in an application; your main consideration is size – one of my projects is webhelp that I ship separately outside of the software installer because it would bloat the software installer up too much. Another of my projects ships locally-installed AIRHelp and that one is included in the build of the software. It’s still small enough that it’s not having much impact on installer size. You should have a chat with your developers to see how they are able to include the help you produce with their installers.

          • 2. Re: Embedding Help content within an application
            deneti Level 1

            Thanks very much for your comments. Apologies, I should have provided more details: I am looking into ways of permanently displaying Help information within an application, rather than having to access a separate Help file. For example, This could be through a window that is permanently displayed in the application, or through adding relevant Help content within dialogs. Using tooltips for buttons and menu items is also a consideration. I was wondering what other users of Robohelp recommend, and which output would be most appropriate. Any comments or advice would be appreciated.

            • 3. Re: Embedding Help content within an application
              Jeff_Coatsworth Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              Ah, embedded help like that is usually done in the code itself (as opposed to a separate help file) and compiled as part of the application itself; you’ll have discuss with the developers on what they want from you content-wise.

              • 4. Re: Embedding Help content within an application
                Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                Hi there

                 

                I think this question is really "tool agnostic" and falls mostly into the lap of the application developer. Remember, the application developer is the God of this realm. S/he has full control over what content appears in the visible area. So you likely need to work very closely with whomever it is to establish what is or is not acceptable. For example, will images be allowed? If not, you are left with text only. If that's the case, are you able to format the text? Perhaps using heading levels, making things bold or italic or whatever? If not, you will be pretty much limited to text files.

                 

                Hopefully that brings a bit of clarity... Rick

                • 5. Re: Embedding Help content within an application
                  deneti Level 1

                  Thanks, I agree that the question is actually "tool agnostic". At the moment, I am thinking about this question from a "User Interface" standpoint. That is, what would be the most effective way to display the Help, from the users' point of view, in order for them to access the Help content they need, in the best way. I could then try too achieve whatever solution we decide on by talking to the developers.

                  • 6. Re: Embedding Help content within an application
                    Jeff_Coatsworth Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                    Depends on how much real estate you’ve got to work with in the application. I usually add text beside the fields that require assistance and create Help buttons for places where longer content is required. Mouse-over/tool tips are also much used to give users some idea of how something works – if the explanation is too much for a mouse-over to contain, it refers them off to the F1 help system.

                    • 7. Re: Embedding Help content within an application
                      deneti Level 1

                      Thanks. Our users will be using a variety of screen sizes, so screen real estate will vary. Where, in the application, would you suggest the Help pane should be located? Perhaps it could be hidden most of the time, and displayed only when needed? I wondering if there were any proven ways of displaying Help in this way, or standards that should be followed.

                      • 8. Re: Embedding Help content within an application
                        Jeff_Coatsworth Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                        That’s all going to depend on the application – maybe you need to engage the services of a UX designer?

                        • 9. Re: Embedding Help content within an application
                          Amebr Level 4

                          My 2c aren't going to be a huge help, but I did look into this for an application that was being primarily designed for mobile devices.

                           

                          The answer I came up with was "it depends on the information required at each specific point".

                           

                          For example, an overlay with graphics can be good to describe touch gestures and key buttons for a screen, but won't work for anything that needs significant explanation.

                           

                          Longer descriptions built into the interface can work well, but only up to (perhaps) a couple of lines on a portrait phone screen.

                           

                          I'll see if I can find the short presso I put together about it or put together a new one - depends on how excited I get.

                           

                          Also, if you are developing for mobile, I'd recommend this book: Developing User Assistance for Mobile Apps | Welinske.com

                           

                          I haven't read the new one, but the old one provided some insight into mobile UA and at the very least makes you think about things. I think some of the ideas could be adapted for desktop display as well (there is a lot of merit to 'just in time' help, although the work involved is quite high compared to, say, web-deployed standalone help.

                           

                          P.S. My personal opinion would be that none of the RH outputs would be appropriate for what I consider "embedded", but I think my definition might be narrower than most, ie. text within the application interface rather than 'standalone' help, like chm or webhelp, etc.

                          • 10. Re: Embedding Help content within an application
                            deneti Level 1

                            Thanks very much for all your responses. I would be very interested to see Amebr's presentation, if possible. This may well get my thought processes going in the right direction!

                            • 11. Re: Embedding Help content within an application
                              Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                              In case it will help, here is a screen capture of a Microsoft application using embedded help.

                               

                              tmp1.png

                               

                              Cheers... Rick