9 Replies Latest reply on Nov 10, 2006 8:28 PM by Roger N

    Webhelp on-line / off-line

    abdab35
      Is there a way to deliver dynamic webhelp to a program based on if there is a current intranet connection or not?

      What I mean is, when a user clicks their help button, if there is a current connection to our intranet, the help will be pulled from the intranet, however if there is not an active intranet connection, can the help be pulled from locally stored files, albeit they might not be the most upto date files.

      Is this possible and if so how?

      Many Thanks
        • 1. Webhelp on-line / off-line
          CraigCC Level 2
          HI abdab35,

          What you are looking for is referred to a Airplane Help. Local help that can be viewed when on an Airplane (without Internet Connection) or the default up-to-date help which can be viewed on the server.

          Look at the help topic 'Using Airplane Help' for more information. You will need to work closley with your developers to get this up and running.

          Hope that helps
          Craig
          • 2. Re: Webhelp on-line / off-line
            abdab35 Level 1
            Thanks Craig

            This is exactly what I want...

            Presumably when the user goes online the help files will be syncronised with the offline help files and update the content?

            Many Thanks

            Caleb
            • 3. Webhelp on-line / off-line
              CraigCC Level 2
              Re: Presumably when the user goes online the help files will be syncronised with the offline help files and update the content?

              Hi Caleb - that will be something that the developers will need to set up and will depend on the technology that is being used to call the help. A script will need to be run to see whether the user has the latest help files installed locally and if not update them. This is not an automatic feature! Your developers will need to create this script. The way that the RH Airplane help is set up loads a local .chm version of the help when you install RH. This is the help that you will always view offline and is not upated until there is a new release. However, if you view the online help this will be the latest version of the help and may include recent updates. It really depends on the application your help support and how 'intrusive' the application can be when applying updates.

              Cheers
              Craig
              • 4. Re: Webhelp on-line / off-line
                Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                Hi all

                I'm not remotely suggesting Craig is wrong here. I'm going to simply present an alternate way of dealing with this issue. I suppose I should preface this with the fact that I'm not overly fond of Airplane Help. If you wonder about that, Click this magick link.

                I once was an intranet webmaster for a division of a company. This division had many departments. Each department had their own pages and whatnot. In two or three of them, I had developed WebHelp systems that were viewed over the intranet. In two of these areas, there were staff that routinely traveled. Part of the time they were in house and had access to the intranet. At other times, they traveled. They had laptops they traveled with. A need was expressed to me that they wanted access to the same intranet WebHelp system while on the road.

                My solution? When I generated WebHelp, I also compiled a .CHM. I had a link inside the WebHelp (which was viewed off the company intranet) that allowed them to download the .CHM version to their hard drives.

                Just a thought of another approach you may not have considered. May not be what you were looking for, but maybe it will help.

                Cheers... Rick
                • 5. Webhelp on-line / off-line
                  lmarden Level 2
                  Rick - I agree with this strategy. We have two flavors of a Knowledge Base - one for clients and one for internal use only, which includes topics clients should never get their hands on. The internal version is only available inside our firewall, so traveling consultants and sales folks know they can always ask me to send them a zipped chm of it when they won't be in the office, or even have access to the Net. I maintain a list of who has what, so when major / important updates are added to the IKB, I send them an updated chm automatically. I like the idea of a link that they can use to download a chm themselves - might just incorporate that!!!!

                  -Laurin (who firmly believes that eating chocolate makes Mondays go faster)
                  • 6. Re: Webhelp on-line / off-line
                    CraigCC Level 2
                    Hi Rick,

                    thanks for this, and apologies, I'd forgotten about your article. Like the recent scry BTW - on creating the zoomed out effect. I was playing around with the effect this morning and got a little engrossed :-)

                    I'm not a fan of Airplane help, just wanted to highlight that this feature is available. The only thing that would concern me with the user downloading the help off their own back would be the risk of losing strick version control. If the server can sniff the client machine and see what version of help they are using, you can ensure that the client always has the latest version. It depends how many users are being supported and how easy it is too sniff out those old copies :-)

                    One thing I found out while dabbling with Airplane Help is that is definitely isn't magic and I definitely don't want to mislead anyone about the amount of work that will be involved. Your approach is definitely less stressful!

                    Kind Regards
                    Craig
                    • 7. Re: Webhelp on-line / off-line
                      Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                      Hi Craig

                      About that zoomed shading. That thing ate my lunch for a while. All I can say about it at this point is to use a line from a John Travolta movie. "Broken Arrow". "Ain't it cool?".

                      No worries on the issues with Airplane help. I was just illustrating a different approach. Yes, you are correct in that the occasionally disconnected users could easily discover that their offline version is outdated. This is because the onus would be on them to update as needed.

                      I also agree that some form of automated software synchronizing would be neat. Hmmm, might make for a neat feature request to put forth to Adobe, now that I think about it. Actually, at that company where I was the webmaster for a while, they had developed some software that did this. It was called "Automatic File Maintenance (AFM)" and it was way cool. And we used it for a while for the purposes put forth here! But at that time, we were distributing collections of WinHelp files to local PCs.

                      Take care my friend... Rick
                      • 8. Re: Webhelp on-line / off-line
                        Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                        Hi Craig

                        About that zoomed shading. That thing ate my lunch for a while. All I can say about it at this point is to use a line from a John Travolta movie. "Broken Arrow". "Ain't it cool?".

                        No worries on the issues with Airplane help. I was just illustrating a different approach. Yes, you are correct in that the occasionally disconnected users could easily discover that their offline version is outdated. This is because the onus would be on them to update as needed.

                        I also agree that some form of automated software synchronizing would be neat. Hmmm, might make for a neat feature request to put forth to Adobe, now that I think about it. Actually, at that company where I was the webmaster for a while, they had developed some software that did this. It was called "Automatic File Maintenance (AFM)" and it was way cool. And we used it for a while for the purposes put forth here! But at that time, we were distributing collections of WinHelp files to local PCs.

                        Take care my friend... Rick
                        • 9. Re: Webhelp on-line / off-line
                          Roger N Level 2
                          Abdab35 -
                          quote:

                          Presumably when the user goes online the help files will be syncronised with the offline help files and update the content?
                          Sounds like that is the crucial ingredient.

                          Airplane help is nice enough, but doesn't behave quite this way. It is dependent, as inferred previously, on a software update from the developer to stay current, much like an application update. If you are online, you get the more recent help files. The airplane help doesn't get updated.

                          You need two components in place to make your update method work; the first is the test for the latest version of your help. If your help checks for the availability of a .js file online, it can make the determination. The beauty of this is, that your help system will not throw an error if off line, as a missing .js file, in itself, will not cause that.

                          The second component is an executable on your client's desktop that will write your updated files to the installed help. The application can have a module that will do this, or you can include it independenty with the help file installation. Activ ebooks, for instance, will do this. They will read local or online web files, and write to the client machine as well.