Defining Context-Sensitive Help Links
Context-sensitive help links provide content based on the context of what the user is doing. In many cases, this help content is based on the window that is open and active. For example, the Help button on a window in a software product can open a specific help topic that provides important information about the window:
What the window allows you to do
Brief concepts needed to understand the window
Guidance for how to use the window
Descriptions about each field on the window, valid values, and related fields
Links to related topics, such as concepts and tasks related to the window
The help topic can also be embedded in the window itself, such as an HTML pane that displays the content of the help topic. Providing this content when and where the user needs it, without requiring the user to search through the help, keeps the user productive and focused. This type of help also makes the product more intuitive by providing answers when and where needed.
There are several methods for creating context-sensitive help. In addition, output formats use different mechanisms to support context-sensitive help. You can reference a topic in the following ways:
Use a Filename marker to assign a file name to a topic. Then, you can open that specific topic with that name. However, if your file naming changes, you need to change the link to the topic. This file naming approach delivers context-sensitive help capabilities in output formats that do not support a mapping mechanism. Each topic can have no more than one Filename marker.
Internal identifier (topic alias)
Use a TopicAlias marker to define an internal identifier for each topic. The benefit of using an internal identifier is that it allows file names to change without impacting the links from the product. The writer inserts this marker in a topic and specifies a unique value for that topic. Then, the mapping mechanism of your output format determines how that internal identifier is supported. Some output formats, such as HTML Help, use a mapping file that defines these topic aliases. You can create more than one TopicAlias marker in a topic to allow multiple context-sensitive links to display the same topic.
To simplify the coding of your source documents, you can use the same marker to define both the name and the topic alias for each topic file. In Style Designer, set the Marker type option for the marker you want to use to Filename and topic alias. For more information about which output formats support this feature, see “Features Available in Each Output Format” on page 8.
For more information about using and customizing context-sensitive help, see the following topics: