Browse Prior Art Database

Enabling Multiple Help Files for Dynamic Menu Item Help Support

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000111807D
Original Publication Date: 1994-Apr-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-26
Document File: 2 page(s) / 106K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Malcolm, JW: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

Disclosed is a technique that provides for the efficient presentation of context-sensitive helps for menu items. It enables multiple help files with possibly conflicting help IDs to be used seamlessly in a single user interface.

This text was extracted from an ASCII text file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 52% of the total text.

Enabling Multiple Help Files for Dynamic Menu Item Help Support

      Disclosed is a technique that provides for the efficient
presentation of context-sensitive helps for menu items.  It enables
multiple help files with possibly conflicting help IDs to be used
seamlessly in a single user interface.

      One of the many requirements for good usability in a graphical
user interface is to provide contextual help for all objects.  This
means that when the user places the cursor on any object in an
application and requests help by pressing the F1 key, help should be
displayed that discusses the specific object which has the cursor.

      In the LAN NetView* product, the user can add menu items
specific to his or her application to the menus of the View user
interface.  The View product must be able to support
context-sensitive helps for each of the added menu items without
knowing in advance how many or what kind of menu items will be added
or what their specific help IDs will be.

      Since many independent applications may add menu items to the
View interface, and since the specific helps for the added menu items
can not be known when the View product is built, the problem of
conflicting help IDs for the added menu items arises.  Additionally,
each added application will have their helps in a separate help file.
To make the problem even more complicated, the Presentation Manager*
on OS/2* does not generate a WM_HELP message when the F1 key is
pressed when the cursor is on a menu item, as it does for other
objects.

      The first step to providing context-sensitive helps for menu
items is to know when the F1 key is pressed, since PM does not
generate a WM_HELP message to the menu item.  The message to key on
is the WM_TRANSLATEACCEL message, which is sent to the window owner
and up the ownership chain from the window with the cursor when any
key is pressed.  This message should be intercepted in the frame
window procedure, since the frame is the owner of the top-level
action bar menu.

      When this message is received and it is determined from the
parameters that the F1 key was pressed while on a menu item, the
application has to ensure that the proper contextual help for that
menu item is displayed.

      When the Help Manager is requested to provide the help
associated with a given ID, it looks in the help files registered
with it for that ID.  When it finds a match, it displays the related
help text.  All of the standard View help IDs are assured of being
unique, since they are predefined.  To prevent a conflict between
help IDs for View and those for the application-added menu items, the
application's help IDs are restricted to a particular range not used
by View.

      When an application adds a new menu item, it provides the
associated help ID and the name of the help file in which that help
is found.  The help ID must be within the specified range for...