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What Happened to Context Sensitive Help Buttons?

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  • What Happened to Context Sensitive Help Buttons?

    I did a forum search but did not find that this topic had been covered before; forgive me if it has:

    In BC2, it seemed as if more dialogs contained a help button on the title bar that could be selected, then clicked over some item in that same dialog for more specific information on that item. In BC3, it seems that the same help buttons only launch a general sort of help, in more of a prose style. One must often then try to locate and navigate through several other links before maybe getting to a description of the particular dialog item of interest.

    An example is the "Tools", "File Formats", "Misc Tab" dialog for the "Lines are independent" item. Select the Title-bar help button which brings up help text that describes very little of that which one actually sees on that dialog. From there, follow the link "See also: 'Editing a Text Format'", then "Misc", then scan for the item of interest - four steps, instead of the one and a half or so that it could have been. My interpretation of "See also" type of links has always suggested that you might find tangentially rather than directly related information to the topic at hand.

    Maybe I'm tilting at windmills here, because I've noticed this trend among several other products - Quicken comes to mind, because I was working with it last night. It's quite frustrating when all that is desired is a more thorough explanation of one specific item on a given dialog and have to go chasing all over creation trying to find it. Is this sort of help style another Microsoft-inspired maneuver?

    Anyway, I really don't intend to sound so peevish - I would not have bought a personal license for myself, nor would I have successfully recommended that our shop purchase a site license, if I did not think that BC was a wonderful product.

    Jerry (BC3 eval 3.0.4 build 8855)
    Last edited by aid9035; 12-Sep-2008, 04:54 PM. Reason: Add BC version info

  • #2
    Microsoft dropped support for .hlp files as of Vista, and that's the technology that we (and a lot of other apps) use for popup help.

    Our help file is still a work in progress. I'll try to do better with the dialog-specific topics.

    Tim T Scooter Software


    • #3
      OK - the situation is rather what I gathered - a change in Microsoft direction. I am already dreading my next Microsoft "experience".

      I am reminded of a time early in my career: at that shop we had a contractual systems architect moonlighting from his professorship at Duke. In his good old boy, soft-spoken manner, he observed that eventually, they (fill in the vendor or manufacturer of your choice) improve things to the point of unusability! On countless occasions in the intervening 20 years or so, I have rarely found cause to fault that observation.

      Again - keep up the great work. Scooter is NOT the vendor I have in mind here ...




      • #4
        Yes, that is a bad tide from Microsoft recent years. I've observed these:
        • On Internet Explorer 5 and 6, the context help within the Option dialog works well, but on IE7, it goes bad.
        • On Microsoft Word 2000, it works well, but goes bad in Word 2003.
        • On Visual C++ 6, it works fairly well too, but in Visual Studio .NET 2005, it goes bad again.

        What I can suggest is, break down each option in its dedicated chm page, so user can be less likely to be distracted.
        Last edited by chjfth; 18-Sep-2008, 09:10 PM.