Search icon Looking for something?

Help with Online Help
1996, Sep-Oct (March 07, 2007)
By Ann-Marie Grissino

Are you a media maverick, a hopelessly hung-up-on-help author, or maybe an electronic documentation demon? Here's your chance to find out. Answer these questions. (You don't have to show anyone your answers.)
  1. Do you always turn on the hidden text or reveal codes if using Word or WordPerfect because you want to see what's "under the hood?"
  2. Are you always adding just one more "neat" thing in your help projects?
  3. Are you someone who just can't do the same thing repeatedly? Are you driven to do something different the next time?with greater efficiency, better aesthetics, or more functionality?
  4. Are you someone who, if you can't tie your shoes, will wear loafers?
If you answered "yes" to any two of these questions, then you are definitely a driven person and this article is for you. If not, turn the page.

This article, and others in the electronic documentation series we will provide this year, attempt to bring you tips, tricks, and techniques for online help development. To gauge whether or not we're on target, take a moment to respond to the statements in this article's sidebar on page 4.

Embedding Buttons in Secondary Windows

Many of you already use secondary windows to augment your Windows 3.1 online help files. Secondary windows are useful for displaying glossary topics, standalone topics, or graphics that you don't want displayed in your "main" window. (For example, we've used large secondary windows to display and explain sample reports.)

"Unadorned" secondary windows don't contain a button bar or standard main window menu options. Your users can't print information from them and must use the Control bar to close the window — how tacky. However, you can "dress up" your secondary window by adding buttons. (You can make buttons with Excel, which has a button drawing tool.)

This article describes how to add Close and Print buttons to a secondary window. Blue Sky's RoboHelp 3.0 is used as the help authoring tool.

Defining Your Secondary Window

First, you need to tell RoboHelp that you want a type of window other than the standard main one. Let's call this new window type "secwndw."
  1. Click on the Setup Project tool in RoboHelp's Tool Palette.
  2. Click on Advanced.
  3. Double-click on the [Windows] Secondary Windows option.
  4. From the Define Help Window Attributes dialog box, click on Add.
  5. Type "secwndw" as the name of the new window type.
  6. In the Caption box, type a name that you want to appear in the secondary window's title bar.
  7. Optionally, change the position, size, or colors of your scrolling regions. (A pale yellow in the non-scrolling region is helpful to differentiate the secondary from the main window.)
  8. Click OK. Voila. A new window type.

Ahh, but wait! There's a trick to get your help topics to show in "secwndw."

While creating your jump from one topic to the next and displaying the Create Hypertext Jump window, look at the bottom right for the "Into Window" field. (Somewhat obscure.) Type "secwndw" here; the jump will display the topic in a secondary window.

Pointing to Button Graphics

See Figure 1 for the buttons you'll add to the secondary window.
You now need to tell RoboHelp where these files are located.
  1. Place the .bmp graphic file for each button in the directory with your help file.
  2. Click on the Help Project Setup option in RoboHelp's Tool Palette.
  3. Double-click on the BMROOT=Graphics Directories option. Locate the directory containing the graphics.
  4. Click Add. You've just told RoboHelp where you stashed your Close and Print button graphics.

Embedding Buttons in Secondary Windows
Figure 1. Embedding Buttons in Secondary Windows

Working in Your Secondary Window Topic

Create the topic that will appear in the secondary window.
  1. Type the following line on the line after the topic title. (You can put it all on one line; the following example was wrapped due to space limitations.) This line assumes that you named your buttons "close.bmp" and "print.bmp."
  2. Double-underline "bmc close.bmp" and "bmc print.bmp."
  3. Place your cursor in the line. From the Format menu, choose Paragraph.
  4. Choose the Text Flow tab.
  5. Click (enable) the Keep with Next option. (The Keep with Next option makes the non-scrolling region.)

Finishing Up

That's it. Save your file as an .RTF file and generate the help file. Look at the two new buttons in the secondary window. Try printing with the button you created!

Ann-Marie Grissino is Principal of Keypoint Consultants, a documentation and media design firm. Ann-Marie can be reached at keypoint at ral dot mindspring dot com.End of article.

More articles like this...
Comments powered by Disqus.