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Fully Enabled Context-Sensitive Help Text for the IBM PC

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000036901D
Original Publication Date: 1989-Nov-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Jan-29
Document File: 3 page(s) / 111K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Andrews, GP: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

Fully enabled context-sensitive help for the IBM PC is a method that allows a programmer to easily define context-sensitive help for personal computer programs, as well as permit users to tailor or translate help text according to their needs. There are three main parts to this method: A program that adds an index to a help file, a file that contains help text, and routines that extract help text from a file and display it on a screen. (Image Omitted)

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Fully Enabled Context-Sensitive Help Text for the IBM PC

Fully enabled context-sensitive help for the IBM PC is a method that allows a programmer to easily define context-sensitive help for personal computer programs, as well as permit users to tailor or translate help text according to their needs. There are three main parts to this method: A program that adds an index to a help file, a file that contains help text, and routines that extract help text from a file and display it on a screen.

(Image Omitted)

A program called INDEX.COM adds an index to the beginning of the help file. The index is used to reduce the time it takes to find the correct help text records in the file and load them into memory. Once the programmer has created the help file, or even when the file is updated, the INDEX.COM program must be run. The index is one long record that contains 12 bytes for each control record in the help file. The index is separated from the help file by a X'0D0A' pair. The first 6 bytes of each 12 byte index entry is the ID for the paragraph of help text that follows, and the last 6 bytes are the byte offset into the help file.

The help text is stored in a file separate from the actual program. The source help file comprises three different types of records. They are comment records, control records, and help text records. Fig. 1 provides examples of these records. All records in the help file are ended with a X'0D0A' pair.

Comment records permit comments to be placed in the help file to aid in its translation. A comment is identified by two asterisks in the first 2 positions of a record. These records are removed by the INDEX program and are not displayed on the screen.

The second type of record are control records. These records serve two purposes. They separate the help text records into groups that are displayed on the screen, and they identify the groups to the program. Control records are identified by an '*&' in the first two positions of the record. The format of the control record is: *&xxxxaaaaaa where xxxx is the product id and aaaaaa is the id for the paragraph of help text that follows. These records are not displayed on the screen.

Any record that is neither a comment record nor a control record is a help text record. A help text record may contain any displayable character in it and may be up to 74 characters long in the current implementation.

Routines that extract help text from the file and display it on the screen are the third...