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You know, it's so unfortunate to help authors that Google came along. Why? Because it seemed to emphasize Search as being *THE* way to use things.
I don't care how good the search gets, IMNSHO *NOTHING* and I do mean nothing beats a well constructed Index for allowing folks to get the information they need in a rapid manner.
Here's a little story for you to ponder. Long ago in a distant galaxy I worked in the corporate world. My help system was massive. 255+ individual WinHelp files that were all linked together to form a nice cohesive whole. It had a marvelous index that allowed easy transport from a topic in file 20 to another topic in file 233. It was all very quick and seamless to the end user. (They used this AS an application to help them answer incoming support calls)
Enter the world of the web. Exit my presence as political company winds shifted and forced it away from me. I grew unhappy and left the company. Then was invited back to work with this system. They heard a major outcry from the user community. The outcry? We want the search. We want the search.
What had happened was that others ported the WinHelp to the Intranet (web based) and in doing so, lost that fabulous index. There were some 40,000 files involved. What did I do? I gave them what they wanted, but NOT what they asked for. I pulled a smoke and mirrors trick. I indexed again and substituted the Search image for the Index image in my WebHelp skin. They clicked "Search" and what they got was that nice Index. They were happy. Management was happy. It was a win/win for all involved.
If search is the primary means of locating information, there are serious issues with the help.
Food for thought... Rick
Just to add, the search works on the string you entered. So the user is get what they searched on. Unfortunately there is no "whole word" only option unless you implement something like ZoomSearch as described on my site. Which leads you back to Rick's point that the index is a more controlled solution.
Well said Rick and I love the slight of hand When I arrived at my current role I was shocked to see how little effort was given to indexing the help files. Now we have a task built into every project schedule and with a bit of gentle nudging from our help desk (following some internal training from us) our users are a lot happier.
Thanks for all your super fast responses.
We've explored using ZoomSearch a little, with some help from Grange's webpage - but have come unstuck after compiling:
- when editing the skin - i can create a new button which i hope would action ZoomSearch - but i cant seem to find the right file to link it to??
- also not sure how to remove the redundant search button from the skin
When you say "Redundant search button", do you mean the Search Input field that appears in the main toolbar?
Actually, all of this is configurable. What you do is begin by double-clicking the layout in the Single Source Layouts pod. Then you will see three or four intermediate dialogs that allow choosing a plethora of options that will govern how your WebHelp ends up. One of the intermediate screens has check boxes for choosing which buttons you see.