Help Jargon

Topic - The basic element of help files. A topic appears in a window, either the main window, a secondary window, or a popup. It is equivalent to a printed page, but is generally smaller.

Main Window - Most topics appear in the main window. It contains a title bar and optional buttons, and is used for most help topics.

Secondary Window - These windows are used for special purposes, and can appear in addition to the main window. Common uses for secondary windows include How-To topics and Glossarys. WinHelp 3.1 can show only one secondary window at a time, while WinHelp 4.0 can show up to 9 at a time. They have a title bar, but no menus. Secondary windows can be set to Stay On Top. Under WinHelp 4.0, they can also be set to AutoSize, where their height can vary based on the size of their contents.

Popup - A special kind of topic that appears in a window without buttons or title bar. A popup pops up over the previous topic, and goes away at the next mouse click or keypress. Popup windows are just large enough to show their contents, although they may be made any size by having the popup contain a one-cell table of fixed size. They are normally used for definitions, dialog box control explanations, or WhatsThis topics.

Jump - A jump is a section of text or graphic that, when clicked, takes the user to another topic. A jump to a topic in the same window type will show the new topic in the existing window, replacing the current topic. A jump to a different window type will show the topic in that window, leaving the current window on the screen.

Hotspot - A hotspot is a section of text or image that, when clicked, executes a jump, popup, or macro. The mouse pointer will change when moved over a hotspot. If the hotspot is a section of text, the text will appear in a different color. The text will have an underline if it's a jump, or a dotted underline if it's a popup. The user can change these colors in an INI file, or the help author can force the text to the color of their choice.

Hypergraphic - A hypergraphic (also known as a segmented hypergraphic, or SHG) is a bitmap containing one or more hotspots. They are commonly used to document menus or dialogs, with each hotspot triggering a jump or popup.

Copyright © 2009 by Dana Cline
Last Updated  Monday, April 06, 2009
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