Help Systems

The last time I released a program around 8 years ago I implemented help instructions that were html based and reused the help on the web.

I have noticed a few programs just dispensing with built in help and just supplying a pdf.

Is there anything new around or built in plugins that are popular?

I issued a “viable, time limited scaled down” version of an application * and only add some Canvas ‘i’ help that display another step in the help (the Controls in the window have MouseEnter text “online/contextual help”).
The context is different: no manual (yet), no training (yet).

  • The user can enter (and read) data, and make report(s) if all is OK / troubles or missing stuff found. Think beta tester in real action.
    The application is “time limited" / will stop working on Sept. 30th, 2018.

There recently was a big discussion about html vs. pdf. You need to define what you want. My solution is in html that comes with the app and has a companion website. Steve K has a nice pdf because his instructions are quite complex.

Thanks Beatrix, so no new plugins of late and create your own html viewer window is the go?

Way back I used a plug in from Butterfly Effect which worked well but it is no longer supported.

I just use RapidWeaver to make a Help website and include this in the app.

It depends a lot on the type of help. If it’s verbose but “plain”, then HTML is usually simpler and works out for the website as well.

If help is complex and requires heavy use of large graphics then a PDF may be better (and it’s better if you want it to be printable, of course).

If you see this example from @Steve Kelepouris, that’s a complex enough need to warrant a PDF or canvas-based approach :

Luckily I have never had to do anything more complex than HTML with trimmed screenshots.

My help (description above) is in a simple window I created is a TextArea with styled rtf (no images). It is a simple help system for user entry window (type data in the window and save the whole in a data base file.

More a remainder than a true and complete help, but I think it is enough for that window.

Development of this has stopped for the moment, but at would still take a look at NSWRS

I have a couple of apps where a single window with styled text is all the help needed. I love when that’s possible and it reminds me of the help screens in old B&W macs :slight_smile: