Peter Grainge's info on calling WebHelp, http://www.grainge.org/pages/authoring/calling_webhelp/calling_webhelp.htm seems to refute your statement: "WebHelp doesn't support context-sensitive help."
Thank you, Leon - I see that popups are partially supported (can't go from link to link), but maybe this will be good enough. However, I'm trying to create an application with minimal developer hassle, so a developer would have to do very little to program the help.
Sure it can do CSH - I'm doing it right now with my workflow!
Thanks, gents - I realize I may not be communicating the problem clearly. From the RoboHelp 8 HTML help:
"Field-level (What's This?) topic (WinHelp and Microsoft HTML Help projects) Briefly describes a field. A user accesses the topic by clicking a question-mark icon, and then clicking a field in a dialog box. In RoboHelp, field-level topics are called What’s This? topics.
"Note: WebHelp, WebHelp Pro, FlashHelp and FlashHelp Pro do not support field-level Help. WebHelp window support is available only with the context-sensitive Help API (Application Programming Interface)."
What I'm looking for: In WebHelp, hovering my mouse over a field, then pressing F1 or a ? to invoke help. I think this is technically "field-level help," and I'm curious how to minimize developer involvement. Thanks,
FWIW, even Microsoft is backing away from What's This type of help.
You can somewhat accomplish it by creating dialog or page level help. Then sprinkle Bookmarks through the topic and maybe you can coax exit points from the application or page to the bookmark location of the WebHelp. Heck, I suppose you could fudge What's This help by mapping each field to a topic/bookmark (or even individual topics - shudder) and have your developer link to them in a small specific window. But if you were to do this, you would be asking for MORE developer involvement and not LESS as you wish.
Sorry, any form of Context Sensitive Help will require the developer to be involved. Unless you want to become the developer yourself, there simply isn't much you can do to work past it.
Helpful and Handy Links
Just checked - the text is fixed in my copy of the help.
Thanks again - I guess I need to ask a fundamental question: What is the difference between What's This? and context-sensitive help? If I have this straight:
What's This? (field-level help) example: MSFT Word: Click Insert tab -> Hyperlink, and in the Insert Hyperlink dialog, hover your mouse over Bookmark and press F1. This brings up field-level help (a single html file is invoked, w.o. any apparent help system launched) for only the Bookmark function.
Context-sensitive help example: Repeat, except an entire help system (e.g., WebHelp is launched), with the Bookmarks help file invoked.
Please correct me if this is awry. If What's This? isn't supported on WebHelp, can someone provide an example of creating context-sensitive WebHelp? In RoboHelp 8, I can select an image, navigate to Insert -> Image Map -> Rectangle, and and create an image map for a topic. When a user clicks this image map, WebHelp is deployed, and the help topic is displayed. Fine - except I don't want the entire WebHelp project launched - just this topic.
No, your example is a bit mixed up. What's This help is an older style of "tool tip" help that would cause a "?" to appear as your mouse hovered over a field or button. Later this was replaced by this sort of image (e.g. www.sagebrush.com/vista4_1.gif ). What you're seeing with the MS Word example you cited is not dependant upon which part of the Insert Hyperlink screen you hover over - it always launches the same help topic. This is an example of CSH in action. It's more like "screen-level help" rather than "field-level help."
Like Rick was saying, you could simulate the field-level help appearance by either treating each "call" from the application as a separate topic (not showing the full help- just the one topic) or by calling 1 topic for the screen and then placing bookmarks within it to jump to the appropriate spot that refers to the help for the desired field.
Thanks, Jeff - I now see the difference between field-level help and CSH. Rick's example was summarized by Jeff:
Simulate the field-level help appearance by either treating each "call" from the application as a separate topic (not showing the full help- just the one topic) or by calling 1 topic for the screen and then placing bookmarks within it to jump to the appropriate spot that refers to the help for the desired field.
How is it possible to simply show one help topic (vs. the entire WebHelp) when help is invoked? That seems contrary to how WebHelp is supposed to work. Believe me, that's what I'm after...thanks,
I've customized the "Show" link that normally appears to read "Contents/Search/Index" - when the user click on it, expands into the full help (example2) that opens in their browser.
There are a bunch of ways to invoke CSH - check out Peter Grainge's site (www.grainge.org) and Adobe help for more info.
Basically it's like this. WebHelp is nothing more than a collection of HTML pages that each contain different "Topics". This means that each page has a unique URL which may be used to view it. Normally, WebHelp is presented with the surrounding frameset (also known as the Skin) and the Topic is shown in the Topic pane of the Frameset.
What Jeff has shown is what you might get if you just link to the URL of the topic. I say *MIGHT* because whether you see the "Show" link is configurable and you can generate WebHelp where it's not factored in.
So you have many options of linking to your help. You can link to a single topic where only that topic appears. You can link to the WebHelp generically and the end user finds their own way to the information they are looking for. You can link to a Bookmarked location inside a topic either on its own or within the frameset. And if you are using the WebHelp API, you can specify your own Window that will be used. Otherwise, your developer can create the window using their own means.
Helpful and Handy Links
Thanks, gents. I realize I'm a bit obtuse on this, so I still need more info:
I guess the bottom line has already been answered: I will need a developer to take the MapID coordinates for a topic and put them in the code. Not a big deal, but if the MapID changes, I need to pester the developer. Trying to avoid this - and yet that's one of the strengths of WebHelp, that very little developer help needed.
The big picture: Go to http://sharpfin.nmfs.noaa.gov/website/EFH_Mapper/map.aspx
This might be useful to you - earlier this week, MindTouch announced a "F1" type button and help system for web applications, which sounds pretty interesting. Some of the comments also mention the ability to import CHM files, which I know is important to RoboHelp and Framemaker users.