Html Help For Mac
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Html Help For Mac
The first steps in authoring your help book are identifying the topics your help must cover and designing a layout for presenting these topics. To this end, you may find it useful to create a topic outline. If the software product for which you are creating help already has existing documentation, you may be able to base your outline on this material. If you are creating a help book from scratch, there are a number of ways you can approach the outline. A few examples:
Walk through the steps of the main task sequence in order. If you are writing help for a larger application, there may be several different task sequences a user would perform. For example, a productivity suite may have different task sequences for word processing, using spreadsheets, and creating presentations.
Compatibility Note: If your help book is used only on OS X v10.4 or later, use HTML 4.01 and use XHTML for the main page that contains the AppleTitle meta tag. Help Viewer references this file often and formatting it as XHTML improves performance. If your help book is also used on OS X v10.3 or earlier, however, use HTML 3.2 and do not use XHTML for the main page. If you use XHTML in that case, your help book will not be indexed properly.
Each help page should cover only one topic, which can be expressed in a few short paragraphs. As mentioned in the section Designing a Help Book, your help book may contain both overview and task information. Overview pages define terms and concepts important to your application or offer other general information that users may need to know to understand your software product. For example, the help book page shown in Figure 2-1 describes application menus.
Task pages, on the other hand, offer a step-by-step description of the actions the user must take to perform a common task in your software product. The help book page shown in Figure 2-2 describes the steps necessary to change the background of a Finder window.
The topic wrap-up. This includes any information the user may need in order to wrap up any task described in the page. It is also a good place to include tips, shortcuts, troubleshooting information, and links to related help topics. For example, the last paragraph shown in Figure 2-2 gives a hint the user might need in order to see a large picture in their Finder window.
In addition to topic pages, you may need to create navigation pages for your help book. Users should be able to find most of the information they need by searching and navigating through links in your topic pages. However, navigation pages, such as tables of content, allow users to browse your help book and navigate to topics they want to learn more about without having a particular search topic in mind. You may consider providing a table of contents at the following levels:
Including a table of contents on the title page, at the top level of your help book, allows the user to select a starting point within your help book. A title-page table of contents gets the user started in finding help, even if they do not quite know what they are looking for. Figure 2-3 shows the top-level table of contents for the Mail application.
As mentioned in Designing a Help Book, you should break complex topics with lengthy descriptions into smaller subtopics in order to keep each help topic short and focused. However, it may not be appropriate to include all of the subtopics directly in your main table of contents.
For an example of a help book to use as a starting point, see the files for Mail Help in /Applications/Mail.app/Contents/Resources/English.lproj/MailHelp/. (Note that you have to select Show Package Contents from the contextual menu to see the contents of the Mail.app bundle.)
Every help book must be enclosed in its own folder, which is in the Resources folder of the application bundle. The help book folder also contains a Resources folder. In the help books Resources folder, you put a folder for artwork that does not need to