Unreachable anchors

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Unreachable anchors

Unread postby Tim Frost » Mon Aug 01, 2016 7:32 pm

I have recently discovered that some of my anchors in web help cannot be reached from a web link using the #anchor syntax at the end of the url. This happens consistently in Chrome, Firefox and Edge which only show the topic from the top, but not in IE11, which correctly scrolls to the anchor. The help is on a web server with public access.

It seems that Chrome (my normal browser) links to all the anchors I have tried which have Help Context numbers, and I believed that this was the difference, but I found I can now link to some of my anchors which have no help context. I have seen the problem more often in topics which have a large number of anchors, but there are a large number of topics and anchors and I have not yet found a definite pattern.

The anchors are always reachable from links within the help file. But I often need to send a user a link to an anchor, and cannot assume that they will use IE.

7.1.0.3295, Windows 7/64 PP3 skin.
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Re: Unreachable anchors

Unread postby Martin Wynne » Mon Aug 01, 2016 7:46 pm

Hi Tim,

This is a common failing in some browsers on long pages or pages with many graphics. It is not from H&M (otherwise IE wouldn't work).

Try waiting until the page has finished loading (roundel stopped rotating), then click in the address bar, and press the Enter key. (This works with all normal web pages, I'm not sure about the latest H&M skins.)

regards,

Martin.
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Re: Unreachable anchors

Unread postby Tim Green » Tue Aug 02, 2016 6:33 am

Tim Frost wrote: PP3 skin.

This is a please-read-the-documentation issue. 8) In the V3 skins you need to use a different anchor syntax, which is described in the documentation:

Code: Select all
topicname.html?anchor=myanchor
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Re: Unreachable anchors

Unread postby Simon Dismore » Tue Aug 02, 2016 10:07 am

Tim Green wrote:This is a please-read-the-documentation issue. 8) In the V3 skins you need to use a different anchor syntax, which is described in the documentation: topicname.html?anchor=myanchor

Tim, I don't think this is documented in the Help & Manual help. I checked:Perhaps what you are saying is that it's documented in the PP Help (Help & Manual Premium Pack 3.15 > V3 Responsive Skins > New URL Syntax, Cache Issues: Using the new URL syntax, compatibility with the old syntax)?

If it's not possible to share a common syntax with standard Webhelp, at least it would make sense to mention the issue in all the main help locations that mention link to anchors: e.g. Note: a different syntax is required for V3 skins. Wouldn't it?
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Re: Unreachable anchors

Unread postby Martin Wynne » Tue Aug 02, 2016 10:54 am

Simon Dismore wrote:Perhaps what you are saying is that it's documented in the PP Help (Help & Manual Premium Pack 3.15 > V3 Responsive Skins > New URL Syntax, Cache Issues: Using the new URL syntax, compatibility with the old syntax)?

If it's not possible to share a common syntax with standard Webhelp, at least it would make sense to mention the issue in all the main help locations that mention link to anchors: e.g. Note: a different syntax is required for V3 skins. Wouldn't it?

Hi Simon,

But that section of the PP3 Help specifically says that the old syntax continues to work, the only downside being that it is a bit slower.

And it does work -- tested in V3 skin on Firefox, IE and Google Chrome:

.../help/index.html?my_topic.htm#my_anchor

It's important for V3 to be compatible with the old syntax because such context links are very likely hard-coded into many applications, and posted in older replies on support forums.

I think Tim has misinterpreted Tim F's problem. I think it is actually the well-known browser timing bug, as mentioned in my previous post.

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Re: Unreachable anchors

Unread postby Simon Dismore » Tue Aug 02, 2016 11:32 am

Martin Wynne wrote:It's important for V3 to be compatible with the old syntax because such context links are very likely hard-coded into many applications, and posted in older replies on support forums.

Exactly. But wasn't Tim implying that the old syntax is deprecated or unreliable for long pages in V3? So "It does work" isn't guaranteed to be true in future? Or am I misunderstanding, in which case oops, sorry. I am not a fan of the PP documentation being separate from the main documentation anyway.
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Re: Unreachable anchors

Unread postby Martin Wynne » Tue Aug 02, 2016 11:49 am

Simon Dismore wrote:Exactly. But wasn't Tim implying that the old syntax is deprecated or unreliable for long pages in V3? So "It does work" isn't guaranteed to be true in future? Or am I misunderstanding, in which case oops, sorry. I am not a fan of the PP documentation being separate from the main documentation anyway.

Hi Simon,

My understanding is that it is deprecated for new projects, but will continue to work on existing projects for the foreseeable future. How long is that? In the long term we are all dead. :(

I get the impression that V3 is to some extent experimental, and Tim is still exploring ideas. V4 could be very different.

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Re: Unreachable anchors

Unread postby Tim Green » Tue Aug 02, 2016 12:31 pm

Sorry, my misunderstanding: If you're still using the old syntax it should definitely work. But then you have to use the full old syntax, i.e. index.html?topic.htm#anchor. Just using topic.htm#anchor won't work, and it also won't work if you aren't using a web server. If you have an example of it not working please mail me a demo project to support AT ec-software.com (replace the AT with @) and I'll check it out.

As to how long the old syntax will be supported: I don't have any plans to remove it any time soon. That being said, it would be foolhardy to continue to use it in new links and pages created now. The support is only there for old external links on pages that you don't have control over yourself. If you're creating new links, use the new syntax.

If I continue to hear that people are using the old syntax on purpose just because it's supported that would be a very strong reason for me to remove it right away. You have been warned. :twisted:

PS: There was a problem with anchors not working that was fixed recently. If you're not using version 3.15 you may not have the fix. 8)
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Re: Unreachable anchors

Unread postby Tim Frost » Tue Aug 02, 2016 1:28 pm

Well, you are even making me confused about what I meant after reading the above! Apologies to anyone I have misled.

I am not using responsive skins.
I am using a skin from PP 3.15 but the problem also occurs with older help made with an older skin.
I am using the 'full' url with index.html?topic.htm#anchor
The help I have been testing resides on a web server.
The scroll does work in failing browsers if I click in the address field and press enter (but users may not do this).
I cannot make anything work with anchor=myanchor but I will go and RTM now, before I comment further.
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Re: Unreachable anchors

Unread postby Tim Green » Tue Aug 02, 2016 2:05 pm

Hi Tim,

Now I'm confused: I got the impression you were using V3 Responsive skins, which is the only place where the new syntax is relevant. You don't say specifically which skins you are using, but my guess is that they are the ones under the V2 WebHelp and EWriter Skins heading. If you are having a problem there, please mail me a small demo project and a copy of the skin you are using to support AT ec-software.com (replace the AT with @) and I'll check it for you.

The demo project only needs to contain a handful of topics needed for testing the problem. You can create it easily in single-file format by choosing Save As.. in the File menu and choosing the HMXZ compressed single file format (first option). Then delete all the topics you don't need in the resulting project copy and you only need to mail the .hmxz file and the .hmskin skin file. :)
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Re: Unreachable anchors

Unread postby Martin Wynne » Tue Aug 02, 2016 2:22 pm

Tim Frost wrote:The scroll does work in failing browsers if I click in the address field and press enter (but users may not do this).

Hi Tim,

Well-known timing bug in several browsers if you have long or graphics-intensive pages with an anchor near the end. Nothing to do with H&M.

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Re: Unreachable anchors

Unread postby Tim Frost » Tue Aug 02, 2016 2:47 pm

Sorry, the only mention of '3' in my original post was 'PP3' in the versions I listed at the end, but I can see how this misled you and others, and shifted the discussion in the direction of responsive skins.

Because the anchors exhibit both the problem and the workaround described by Martin Wynne, I believe this will turn out to be the cause. The topic with which I discovered the issue has about 50 anchors, and I will send you a link to this. Let me know if you also need the project or topic files, but it is clear that they work in IE.

Since the issue affects several different browsers it would be nice if there was some way to replicate or spoof the workaround in the HTML when loading a topic in the affected browsers. But it is not a huge issue.
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Re: Unreachable anchors

Unread postby Simon Dismore » Tue Aug 02, 2016 3:43 pm

Tim Green wrote:As to how long the old syntax will be supported: I don't have any plans to remove it any time soon. That being said, it would be foolhardy to continue to use it in new links and pages created now. The support is only there for old external links on pages that you don't have control over yourself. If you're creating new links, use the new syntax.If I continue to hear that people are using the old syntax on purpose just because it's supported that would be a very strong reason for me to remove it right away. You have been warned. :twisted:

But, if the new syntax works with V3 only, doesn't that commit me to V3-based webhelp exclusively in future? So moving away from "Write once, publish anywhere."
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Re: Unreachable anchors

Unread postby Tim Frost » Tue Aug 02, 2016 4:38 pm

Well, I hope everyone else has got something useful out of this thread about responsive skins, because my problem was unrelated and much simpler.

As Tim Green has just pointed out to me in e-mail (and he was very gentle about it), the sample failing link I gave him had the anchor as I had entered it, in upper case characters and un-matchable. So nothing to do with browsers or delays, just me having a senior moment!
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Re: Unreachable anchors

Unread postby Tim Green » Tue Aug 02, 2016 5:05 pm

Simon Dismore wrote:But, if the new syntax works with V3 only, doesn't that commit me to V3-based webhelp exclusively in future? So moving away from "Write once, publish anywhere."

Transitions are never painless. You have to accept some friction and difficulty when they happen, otherwise they won't happen. There's no way around that.
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