How does the Help System know which page to display?

15 May, 2008 at 12:59 pm | Posted in Help Systems | 2 Comments
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Ever wondered how, when you press F1 or click on the Help button, the system knows which page to show you?

It’s all down to Context Numbers.

There are two ways of getting these, and both involve working with the software developer(s). Either the Author tells the developer which number is associated with a window or active area, or the developer tells the Author.

It doesn’t matter which way round you do it, although many Help Authoring systems will generate Context Numbers and produce a .csv file that the developer can use to update the code.

Personnally, I prefer to number the pages myself, or at the very least specify the starting number. That’s because, for my current Help system, I’ve got separate Help files for optional software elements. I like to keep the numbers of the main Help pages in one group (1to 999), and then the numbers for the separate optional files are grouped in thousands.

And yes, I do have over a thousand help topics…

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  1. […] 2008 at 10:08 am | In Help Systems | Tags: Help The other day I was working with a developer on the Context IDs. He spotted that I had two different IDs for the same window, in two different Help […]

  2. […] I wasn’t given an authoring tool, so I had to hand-build it using Word. All the Keywords, Context Numbers, etc. were special footnotes, which had to be manually inserted. It took a very long […]


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