29 Replies Latest reply on Mar 8, 2011 1:27 PM by mindraytw

    RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?

    mindraytw

      Greetings,

       

      I had a meeting with my boss today to discuss our online help options. He wants to go to the next step and talk to the SW group but had a few excellent questions that I need to answer before we can do that. 

       

      1) Our medical device uses a touchscreen. Can HTML Help take advantage of this touchscreen technology? For example, are the links, etc, "touchable" or is it strictly mouse driven?

       

      2) Can HTML Help be designed so that the primary window is always on top?

       

      3) Can HTML Help autosize or use scalable fonts? Our device is available in two sizes and we'd like for our help to use appropriate font sizes based on the device size.

       

      Thanks in advance,

      Michelle

        • 1. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
          Jeff_Coatsworth Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          Touchscreens interpret touches as mouse clicks - it all depends on how the screen is configured. Why are you looking at .chms as "going the next step"? Why not go to AIRHelp - that definitely has scalable font sizing & looks a lot more modern.

          • 2. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
            mindraytw Level 1

            Does AIRHelp require a browser?

            • 3. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
              mindraytw Level 1

              Plus, we liked the idea of delivering one .chm file instead of multiple .htm files with the other helps. We will have our help file translated into multiple languges and we are concerned about the space and the management of these files with our device software. HTML help is self contained and we thought that was easier to deal with in this situation.

               

              Please chime if you have another suggestion.

              • 4. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                Jeff_Coatsworth Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                AIRHelp is Adobe's spin on the single file help deliverable (it comes as a single .air file). Due to tightening security, .chms have been getting restricted in their running depending on their location (besides, they're getting really dated looking from a design perspective).

                 

                AIRHelp comes in 2 flavours - a locally installed one and a browser-based server one. Community Professional Peter Grainge has a lot of good info about AIRHelp up on his site (www.grainge.org); I'd recommend you check it out. RH9 now includes the first version of an AIRHelp skin editor, so you can mess around with colours and fonts a bit. Adobe's own help is a variation of AIRHelp.

                1 person found this helpful
                • 5. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                  mindraytw Level 1

                  Fantastic information!! Thanks so much. 

                  • 6. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                    mindraytw Level 1

                    One more question. Do you know if AIR Runtime needs to be installed on each Windows based device or can it be installed as part of our SW application? He goes through the entire install process on his site but we wouldn't want to have to install the runtime app. on each device.

                    • 7. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                      A25CharacterScreenName

                      You asked about "online help options," which Mr. Coatsworth interpreted as meaning Microsoft Compiled HTML (chm). Chm is an offline help mechanism. Some clarification of this requirement appears to be in order.

                       

                      "Online" help implies that the help files (HTML files) would be stored on an HTTP server and accessed over a network via a web browser. This solution works best when you have documents which are canonical in nature (authoritative or regulatory) controlled by a central authority and not merely advisory or suggestive, or when you are working with thin-client devices (common in a medical environment) which do not have local storage.

                       

                      "Offline" help implies that the help files will be installed on each machine (or on a shared network drive accessed as though it were local storage), usually compiled into a single file and frequently requiring proprietary software (such as Microsoft's Help viewer) to be viewed.

                       

                      Whether or not a touchscreen will work for you depends primarily on what software you are using to access your help files. If you are using a standard web browser (Internet Exploder, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.) touching a link to activate it should be built in (it works using the Android browser on my smart phone). I don't know if the Microsoft Help viewer installed on a touch-screen OS will work, although because it uses the Internet Exploder dynamic link libraries I believe it should. If you choose to use a different technology, you will simply have to try the software before you decide to use it.

                       

                      Because the help file relies on software to render it (technically, this software is known as a User Agent, frequently abbreviated UA) whether or not it will remain "on top" is entirely dependent on the UA and not the RoboHelp output. I know it is progammatically possible to write a program which is "always on top", but I don't know how to set that property on some other, arbitrary piece of software such as a web browser.

                       

                      HTML was designed from the outset to look as good as possible on a wide variety of devices with varying capabilities. Should you choose HTML as a help format, and use style sheets to format your document (no absolute positioning!!) the help should be completely resizable and the end user should be able to select any font face or size according to his or her preferences.

                      1 person found this helpful
                      • 8. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                        Jeff_Coatsworth Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                        Yes, the locally-installed flavour needs the AIR Runtime installed once - however, you can get a free license and install file to bundle the installer with your own app installer from Adobe. I'd try using one of the sample projects included with RH and play with it for yourself.

                        • 9. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                          Jeff_Coatsworth Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                          Great post - BTW, I cottoned onto .chms because the OP mentioned HTML Help as the output - that equates to .chm in my SSL layouts. They then referred to .chms in post #3.

                           

                          To tech writers like me, anything that is shown on a screen is "online help" - users only know it's not a big hunk of paper on their desk ;>)

                          • 10. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                            Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                            Hi Lee

                             

                            I'm probably showing more of my age than I'd like here, but I'm with Jeff on the semantics of "On-Line" help.

                             

                            Actually, I was sitting in with my fellow Microsoft MVPs at the Microsoft Campus and I was shocked beyond belief when they reported that they had queried many users and the general consensus was that "On-Line" help meant help delivered over the web. As an old help author, to me, "On-Line" simply means the help is available immediately. It's on a storage mechanism that may be the local hard drive or whatever.

                             

                            With respect to the mention of AIR help, indeed it's Adobe's creation and preferred flavor of the day.

                             

                            However, it seems that there are some misunderstandings surrounding it. There is a major misunderstanding with the distribution. CHM files are nice because there is a single distributable file. That file can be plopped onto a CD-ROM, DVD, Thumb Drive or other and generally opened without issue on most Windows machines. Certianly AIR Help is spat out of RoboHelp HTML as a single file with a .AIR file extension, but one cannot do the same with this file type. What one must do is *INSTALL* the AIR file on any PC that will be using it. The file installs just as any other application will. And the installed AIR file deposits something similar to the WebHelp swarm of files on the end user's PC. Before the AIR file may be installed, the PC in question must have the AIR runtime installed so it is aware of how to handle the package.

                             

                            Hopefully that helps a smidge... Rick

                             

                             

                            Helpful and Handy Links

                            RoboHelp Wish Form/Bug Reporting Form

                            Begin learning RoboHelp HTML 7, 8 or 9 within the day!

                            Adobe Certified RoboHelp HTML Training

                            SorcerStone Blog

                            RoboHelp eBooks

                            • 11. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                              mindraytw Level 1

                              Thanks again to all who have chimed in with such valuable information. It's appreciated!!

                               

                              BTW, I'm with Jeff and Rick in terms of the definition of "online" help. As I've always defined it, it's simply "help" that is available to the user in an electronic format but does not not necessarily have to be web based. I will be more careful to define this in future posts as I don't want to confuse anyone.

                               

                              AIR help sounds wonderful and looks so much sleaker than MS HTML Help, but that AIR Runtime installer may be a BIG issue for our SW Engineering  and Service teams as they will likely be the ones doing the installation. This means we'd have to the runtime files installed on EACH medical device. Not going to be easy to sell this concept.

                               

                              Does it take long to install the application?

                               

                              How many files are we talking about? Rick said a "swarm" of files. That makes me uncomfortable. Do they all install into one folder or a series of folders? About how much storage capacity does the installer need?

                               

                              I really wish AIR didn't need this runtime installer. I guess that would be too easy though, right?

                              • 12. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                                Jeff_Coatsworth Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                The initial runtime installer justs takes a minute or so - there's really not much to it. Rick's talking about when you install your single .air help file - it unpacks itself into a bunch of component files in the c:\program files\ folder you tell it to install into. In this respect, it's very similar to a WebHelp install except that it's "packaged" into a single installer file.

                                • 13. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                                  Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                                  I never quite follow why it is that installing the AIR runtime and AIR help is seen as a showstopper but there's no problem installing the software. What is the difference that is such a barrier?

                                   

                                  Installing the AIR runtime is like installing any software app.

                                   

                                  Installing the AIR help is like installing any software app.

                                   

                                  If you are using an installation program, you can use that as long as you get a licence from Adobe to distribute the AIR runtime. I'm pretty sure it is free.

                                   

                                  Hope that helps you to see installation doesn't need to be a big deal. It's just different.

                                   

                                  Auto update requires the user to have admin rights but you don't have to use that feature. Same as you don't have to use commenting if these devices cannot access a shared location.

                                   


                                  See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

                                   

                                  @petergrainge

                                  • 14. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                                    mindraytw Level 1

                                    Peter, I'm so glad you chimed in! I've been trying to get more information about the bundled installation program, as it was mentioned in an earlier post, and hadn't gotten very far yet.

                                     

                                    This is a big deal for us because we are not installing our help files on a standard PC. We're installing them on a Windows based medical device. The user has NO access to the Windows files and cannot install anything on the device. Only our service team can do that. We don't want our users to have to do anything except press a help button.

                                     

                                    Our software engineers are not keen on adding online help to begin with, so the easier this process is for them, the more likely it is that we'll even get to have online help.

                                     

                                    With the bundled runtime installation program, will they need to do anything at the unit or will the application installation take care of all of that?

                                     

                                    Another question is, do you know if there is a way to call different localized AIR files based on the language selected on the device? I guess I would have the same question if I was using MS HTML Help. I suppose the SW engineers would have to create some kind of code for this.

                                     

                                    Can you direct me to a link on the Adobe site that provides more info on the bundled runtime installation program?

                                     

                                    Thanks in advance.

                                    • 16. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                                      Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                                      I guess the first thing to ask is what flavour of Windows are you using?

                                       

                                      On the enthusiasm of the engineers, maybe you need to get the product manager involved. Is it up to the engineers whether or not there is help? If it is, then maybe you have a problem as this is all fairly new territory to all of us. Fortunately I was backed by the senior developer who was keen to use this format.

                                       

                                      If the version of Windows is OK to run AIR, then yes they just install the runtime and then the help. Both involve a real tricky operation, you have to click a button for each.

                                       

                                      You would need different versions of the help for each language and that would be down to the developers figuring out which one to install.

                                       

                                      There's a link in the AIR topics on my site to where you will find more about AIR, it is aimed at the developers.

                                       

                                      The fact that you are working with a specialised piece of kit will make it all more interesting and may add wrinkles that don't impact those of us who only have to consider ordinary PC use.

                                       


                                      See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

                                       

                                      @petergrainge

                                      • 17. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                                        Jeff_Coatsworth Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                        "If the version of Windows is OK to run AIR, then yes they just install the runtime and then the help. Both involve a real tricky operation, you have to click a button for each."

                                         

                                        Hopefully, only 1 click for the whole thing - I'm working with our developers on packaging the runtime and the help install to flow seamlessly within our product's installer. Once we got our runtime license, I found that the installer can be invoked silently. I'll let everybody know how it worked out once we have it built.

                                        • 18. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                                          Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                                          Jeff

                                           

                                          I was referring to running the AIR runtime, the .AIR help and the app manually. You are going to create an installer for the whole lot so that would only be one click.

                                           


                                          See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

                                           

                                          @petergrainge

                                          • 19. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                                            mindraytw Level 1

                                            We are using Windows XP Embedded on our devices.

                                             

                                            To answer your question " Is it up to the engineers whether or not there is help?", I have to laugh. Everything here is up to our SW engineers!! We are running a very lean staff and the less involvement they need to have, the better our chances are to get this off the ground. Our marketing group wants it, but our product manager just resigned, so now I'm really in this without much support at all. My boss, the systems engineering director, is in favor of this project, but needs to know exactly how much time and effort is needed from SW engineering before we can present to the R&D VP.

                                             

                                            The MS HTML Help/.chm approach is nice, even though the interface is antiquated, but I don't think I'll get the scalable fonts I need, and that's a deal breaker as our devices come in two different sizes and scaling is a necessity.

                                            • 20. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                                              mindraytw Level 1

                                              Jeff,

                                               

                                              Thanks for the link to the bundled runtime site and also for offering to tell us how your build works out. I'm really looking forward to hearing more about this.

                                              Best of luck to you and your team!

                                              • 21. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                                                Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                                                The best I can tell you is that our developers had to do some homework but that was inevitable as it was a new form of help. I didn't hear them complaining that it was unduly onerous.

                                                 

                                                 

                                                 


                                                 

                                                See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

                                                 

                                                @petergrainge

                                                • 22. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                                                  mindraytw Level 1

                                                  Thanks, Peter. I will keep this in mind and quote you if need be. 

                                                   

                                                  I'll keep you posted on my progress.

                                                  • 23. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                                                    mindraytw Level 1

                                                    I'm ready to generate my AIR help and test on device but there are a few things I don't seem to have and am not sure how to acquire.

                                                     

                                                    I'm trying to generate a "Adobe AIR application." In the generate dialog it requires a Help ID, Password, and Digital Certificate. How would one acquire this information?

                                                    • 24. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                                                      Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                      Hi there

                                                       

                                                      You will assign the ID. Password is tied to the Digital Certificate. If you haven't purchased one, RoboHelp will create one for you but it will be unsigned. Just click the Create button and a new dialog should appear that allows you to create one.

                                                       

                                                      Cheers... Rick

                                                       

                                                      Helpful and Handy Links

                                                      RoboHelp Wish Form/Bug Reporting Form

                                                      Begin learning RoboHelp HTML 7, 8 or 9 within the day!

                                                      Adobe Certified RoboHelp HTML Training

                                                      SorcerStone Blog

                                                      RoboHelp eBooks

                                                      • 25. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                                                        mindraytw Level 1

                                                        Hi. I've tried to install on our device but it does not recognize the .AIR extention and will not allow me to install the files.

                                                        Is anything required on the PC before the .AIR application can be installed?

                                                        • 26. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                                                          Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                                                          Have you installed the AIR runtime?

                                                           


                                                          See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

                                                           

                                                          @petergrainge

                                                          • 27. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                                                            mindraytw Level 1

                                                            I'm trying to install the AIR runtime (.AIR) for the first time on a "virgin" PC and it cannot recognize the file extention.

                                                            • 28. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                                                              Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                                                              That is not the AIR runtime. That is the AIR help you have created.

                                                               

                                                              The AIR runtime can be downloaded from here. http://www.adobe.com/products/air/

                                                               

                                                              Once that is on the PC (device), then it enables the AIR help to run.

                                                               

                                                              It's like installing Flash Player so that you can view Flash movies.

                                                               


                                                              See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

                                                               

                                                              @petergrainge

                                                              • 29. Re: RH9 HTML (touchscreen, window on top, scalable fonts)?
                                                                mindraytw Level 1

                                                                Thanks, Peter, I figured that out after I responded to your last post. We were able to install and it looks fabulous and the touchscreen and scalable fonts work great!! Lots of work ahead but I jumped a BIG hurdle today. My boss will present to VP of Marketing/R&D later this week. I could not be happier.

                                                                 

                                                                Thanks to all who have "tutored" me through this preliminary process. I'm sure this will not be the last of my questions though.