GUI Help Features

Last modified: 6 February 1998.

Page Contents Introduction  Help Requests  Help Facilities  Help search results  Help display  Display options  Help books  Programmer Interface  Web aware 
See also HelpIndex Bean Information  HiDemo example 


These are the features that a Graphical User Interface (GUI) help system may have. Hopefully this might help clarify which aspects of a help system you require.

The Hi HelpIndex and Hi Brow beans should be able to take part in most of these options, especially where it is marked as *  below.
The HiDemo Java application example shows how you could provide some of the other facilities, ie where they marked as #  below.
Note: Hi HelpIndex does not provide all these facilities.

Help Requests

Requesting help within a GUI (IDE) can take these forms:

Help Facilities

Help search results

Help display

The eventual help can be displayed in one of these three forms:

Display options

In the help display, the following options may be provided:

Help books

*  Help may be provided on more than one topic, ie different "books" can be prepared. Not all users will have all books.

The books may either be selected one at a time, or their contents/index be merged.

Provide programmer/user options to add/remove books.

Programmer Interface

An easy interface should be provided for programmers, ie to provide a link between dialogs/controls and the corresponding help text.

For WinHelp and C/C++ programs, the C++ identifiers are used to relate dialogs/controls to help pages, eg dialog IDD_COLOURS is used to display the help page with topic id of HIDD_COLOURS.

Hi HelpIndex and VC++ programs have a similar link, eg dialog IDD_COLOURS has a help page called IDD_COLOURS.htm.
There is also a link provided for pop-up help, eg button IDC_PRESS_ME has its pop up help defined at anchor IDC_PRESS_ME within web page Popups.htm (or whatever).

Web aware

*  The help pages or system should be written so that it can be made available on the public internet in a useable way.

For use on the web, Hi HelpIndex as an applet would be used to provide the Contents/Index.

On the web, Back/Forward buttons must be provided using a Java applet such as Hi Jump on each web page. In a GUI system, Back/Forward may be better provided as a part of a separate bean (with Prev/Next etc).

HelpIndex    PHD