Understanding Context-Sensitive Help in Word
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.
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.