PHD Computer Consultants Ltd
... JavaHelp 0.33 Comments
Last modified: 20 February 1998.

Comments on the JavaHelp 0.33 spec by Chris Cant.

PHD sells Hi HelpIndex, a Java site navigator and help system. The pertinent features are described more fully below. You might like to have a look at it.

  1. We suggest various scenarios in which help may be needed for an application in

    One scenario which you may have missed is this:
    GUI editors often want help on a specific word, eg the word under the cursor when F1 is pressed. This word should be passed to the index first. If there is a single hit then the hit page should be shown straight away. If there are several hits then the results list should be displayed. Otherwise it should be passed to the Search engine, without actually starting the search.

  2. Our Hi Jump applet provides navigation arrows on a web page, ie Home, Prior in contents and Next in contents. It is not clear whether your help viewer will provide such links. Obviosuly you would need to get the information from the TOC. I presume that Go Back and Go Forward will be available.

    Similarly the viewer may want a synchronise with contents button, or the ability to always keep in sync with the Contents. The latter would mean that if you follow a HTML link to a new page, then the Contents would select the entry that corresponds to the new page.
    Our HiDemo application shows this can be achieved with our HelpIndex and Hi Brow beans.

  3. Hi HelpIndex stores its TOC and Index in .hi "index files" in our own published format. We have gone to some lengths to make sure that this file is not too big. This reduces download times over the network and speeds access from CD-ROM where lots of HTML pages are involved.

    Anyway, I am concerned that your TOC and Index files will be large. Hopefully using relative URLs and jar compression will reduce the file size.

    (I have not looked at the RDF specs yet)

  4. Similarly, it seems as though the help topic ids are all strings. Within a Java application, the use of integer identifiers would be more efficient. Perhaps the map file needs to be in the form of a java file with a special meta syntax (like javadoc comments) to say what the URL is for each id. Or a preprocessor could translate the property structure into a suitable java file.
    Class MyBeanHelp
    public static final int MENU_FILE = 1;  /*? mybean/file.html */
    public static final int MENU_HELP = 2;  /*? mybean/help.html */

  5. Why don't you "go the whole hog" and develop a means of displaying the pop-up help tips within an application.

  6. We could possibly look at developing a help navigator for our "legacy .hi index files". Our existing customers may be interested in this option.

  7. Our Windows Hi Lab program scans existing web sites to build an initial .hi index file. The file can then be edited visually.
    Perhaps we could develop a Java version which generates the required TOC and Index files. We were considering adding such functionality into the HelpIndex bean customiser.

    Parsing a site to make the TOC and Index is particularly important for information kiosk applications, but will be useful for application help as well.

  8. We would be interested in receiving details of the search engine and format, as we were thinking of implementing such a system for CD-ROMs.

  9. Any idea when sample and full versions of JavaHelp will be available?

Hi HelpIndex 30 day trial download 30 day trial download

HelpIndex v2.1.11 is a JDK 1.02 applet for web sites and HTML CD-ROMs. Server and browser independent, ie client-side.

HelpIndex 2.3.0 is a JDK 1.1 bean applet for use in full JDK 1.1+ browsers and use as a component in applications.

Hi Jump is a JDK 1.02 applet providing navigation arrows on the web page.

Hi Brow is a simple but useful JDK 1.1+ browser bean.

HiDemo is a Java application demonstrating the HelpIndex and Hi Brow beans working together.

Hi Lab is a Windows program for editing .hi index files. It can scan existing web sites to build an initial index.

Hi HelpIndex allows choice at run time between several index files. Various language prompts are available. The JDK 1.1 versions automatically choose the most appropriate index and language files for the user's locale.

The HelpIndex bean in conjunction with a browser bean (such as our Hi Brow) can provide the basis of help system for a Java applciation.

Windows developers can use Hi HelpIndex in an HTML Help system. MS Internet Explorer is the browser embedded within our Hi Help program. The MS Visual C++ identifiers relate directly to the page to be displayed, ie dialog IDD_HELP_ABOUT shows page IDD_HELP_ABOUT.htm. Help popup tips are supported. They come from within a specially parsed HTML page, divided by anchor tags, ie the popup for IDC_HELP_ABOUT might come from Popups.htm#IDC_HELP_ABOUT until the next anchor. This help system can be seen in action in the Hi Lab program.