CHM keep on top?

Subject: CHM keep on top?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 22 Mar 2004 16:15:38 -0500

T. Word Smith wondered: <<Which is better and why, setting a CHM up to "keep on top" or setting it not to?>>

There are good arguments for both. The advantage of setting the window to be "always on top" is that you don't have to explain to the user where the help window disappeared to when they click elsewhere on the screen: yes, it's still there, but you'd be amazed at how many people don't understand this. The advantage of not setting the window to be on top is that power users can leave it wherever they want: above, to the side, or below the application window.

Speaking of which, Susan Gallagher opined: <<I personally think that "keep on top" is evil. It may be ok if you have a 47" monitor, but in the world of 17-21", it just gets in the way... You open the help, find the topic, read what you need to, click on the interface to perform the action and you can't because the help topic is directly on top of the widget you need to change.>>

Of course, you could always manually resize and reposition the help window when it appears... <gdrlh> The ideal solution where you can't integrate the help within the interface is, of course, to make the help display alongside the software in such a way that both are visible simultaneously. If you're lucky, you can define the size and position of the help window when it first appears so that both it and the software are visible. Realistically, that's not always possible, particularly with cluttered interfaces or help instructions that require (e.g., because of the presence of wide screenshots) a significant chunk of screen real estate.

The only universal solution I've found is to teach users how to use the help system. You'd be amazed at how many people don't know how, even today. It sucks that we have to even think of this kind of instruction, but them's the breaks.

--Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)


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Re: CHM keep on top: From: Susan W . Gallagher

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