Ability to search added to a topic

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Ability to search added to a topic

Unread postby Suzette Leeming » Tue Feb 06, 2018 5:05 pm

I would like to have a topic in my webhelp whose prime purpose is to be able to search the help file. For example,

How can we help?

[Field to enter Search phrase]

Can I do that? How can I do that?
Last edited by Suzette Leeming on Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ability to search added to a topic

Unread postby sizbut » Tue Feb 06, 2018 5:51 pm

Firstly depends on what help you are talking about - chm, html, PDF, other? Each would need a different format of search string if they supported such a function.

It did make me itch and so in HTML is tried a link 'hmftsearch.html?zoom_query=call' that was launched by clicking on Call. It works, sort of. I get the search results page but can only launch links in a new tab.

Would be cool if it could be made to work, have a "Need more information on X" link on a page without having to hardcode the results but I suspect its not there yet (happy to be proven wrong).
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Re: Ability to search added to a topic

Unread postby Suzette Leeming » Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:12 pm

My apologies - I'm creating webhelp and I should have been more specific with my question.

Was your link entered as a script?
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Re: Ability to search added to a topic

Unread postby Tim Green » Tue Feb 06, 2018 8:04 pm

You can't really achieve this without a lot of additional programming. However, all the WebHelp skins in the Premium Pack have search in its own frame that doesn't get lost when you switch back to the TOC. When you switch back to the search tab the last search you ran and the results are still there. In the newer V3 skins the search tab is in the TOC panel. In the older V2 skins (also included in Premium Pack 3 and still maintained) it is displayed in an additional tab in the topic pane and can also be undocked into a separate window. Learn more about the Premium Pack here:

https://www.helpandmanual.com/products_hm_pluspack.html
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Re: Ability to search added to a topic

Unread postby Suzette Leeming » Tue Feb 06, 2018 8:40 pm

We have the Premium Pack (3.41), and all the ones I've seen have the search in a separate tab. Not important though because that isn't what I want either.

My dilemma is I'm a content developer, not a web designer. I find the premium pack skins very difficult to customize, as do several others in my company. I customize a skin two years ago, but like all things done only once, I can barely remember what I did. I cannot devote that time again.
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Re: Ability to search added to a topic

Unread postby Tim Green » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:33 am

Suzette Leeming wrote:We have the Premium Pack (3.41), and all the ones I've seen have the search in a separate tab. Not important though because that isn't what I want either.

That's exactly what I described -- in a tab in the TOC panel. What benefit do you think you would get by having search hidden in a single page of your help? I don't see it.

My dilemma is I'm a content developer, not a web designer. I find the premium pack skins very difficult to customize, as do several others in my company. I customize a skin two years ago, but like all things done only once, I can barely remember what I did. I cannot devote that time again.

The point here is that they're not designed to be customized, they're designed to be configured. Anything beyond the configuration options available via the configuration variables will involve web design, will be difficult and isn't recommended unless you want to take over the skin, make it your own and forego any updates in the future. The minimalist design was chosen so that you could just add your logos, email addresses and any menu items, plug it into your web page and go. Doing anything beyond that is generally counterproductive.
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Re: Ability to search added to a topic

Unread postby Suzette Leeming » Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:29 pm

Thanks for clarifying that Tim. Previous management here had me customize the skin (colours, icons, etc.) and I'm not sure how I did it but somehow I did. I will work on just minor configurations.

I'm creating online help for one of our newer products, and we want a different look. In our application, the help button will open a small window that will have links to sections of the help file, with an option for the user to select "something else" which will open the complete help file. (The didn't make the help option dynamic, so I'm trying to work with a static help option).

When the user selects "something else", I'd like them to be able to enter search criteria.
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Re: Ability to search added to a topic

Unread postby Tim Green » Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:45 pm

Suzette Leeming wrote:I'm creating online help for one of our newer products, and we want a different look. In our application, the help button will open a small window that will have links to sections of the help file, with an option for the user to select "something else" which will open the complete help file. (The didn't make the help option dynamic, so I'm trying to work with a static help option).

This is all possible. You just need to create a page on your site, separate from your WebHelp, with links to the topics in question. In the V3 skins you would use the syntax described here:

http://www.it-authoring.com/info/pp3hel ... nking.html

When the user selects "something else", I'd like them to be able to enter search criteria.

That is also directly supported with link URLs that you can add to your own page. See the section on URL switches for keyword and index search in the topic referenced above. 8)

In addition to this you can also embed the help in your own page with a snippet of code and also display topics from the help directly in popup overlays on your own pages, without taking your users away to the full help interface at all:

http://www.it-authoring.com/info/pp3hel ... edded.html
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Re: Ability to search added to a topic

Unread postby Suzette Leeming » Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:58 pm

"My own page on my site" assumes someone (i.e. me) has created a website but we're back to my original statement - I am not a web designer. Our help is delivered locally. It's an application for tellers and most banks don't want tellers being about to access the internet while managing people's money.

I'm beyond frustrated at this point and I have a deadline so I'm just going to try and give them something simple.
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Re: Ability to search added to a topic

Unread postby Tim Green » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:36 pm

Suzette Leeming wrote:"My own page on my site" assumes someone (i.e. me) has created a website but we're back to my original statement - I am not a web designer. Our help is delivered locally. It's an application for tellers and most banks don't want tellers being about to access the internet while managing people's money.

Suzette, if they're already viewing the help there is really no reason to re-invent the wheel by giving them an additional search page within the help. That is not only unnecessary, it's counterproductive -- you would be teaching them to use the help incorrectly. You really don't need to spend time on that.

Just give them a page of suggested links to topics with topic links and explain where the search is so that they can search themselves -- if you like with a few search suggestions. In the long run that will help both them and you much more than a fake additional search page. Since they have to enter the search suggestions themselves they will get used to using the search and will be much more likely to use it on their own the next time. You're teaching them how to fish, long term, instead of feeding them one pre-cooked fish dinner. Much better. 8)
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