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Popup help for the focused control, or for the

I'm implementing help in my app. It has two kinds of help:

- popup help
- "large" help (which appears in the HTML Help viewer)

The popup help will appear when the user presses the "What's this" question mark button, and when the user presses F1.

All popup help items contain links to "large" help pages. Only God knows how hard it was for me to implement this (HTML Help does not support links in help popups).


My question is:

The user presses F1.

Should I show him help about the focused control (the control that has keyboard focus) or should I show him help about the "control under the mouse"?

I'm afraid that newbie users don't have a concept of "focused control", and expect to be shown help for the control under the mouse.

I'm striving to implement an excellent help system.

Which way should I implement this?


Thank you!

Viper Rage
Monday, March 08, 2004

It (F1) should be help for the whole form/page.  If there are 5 controls, you should see all the info (you should scroll to the right topic/control) for whatever section you are on 

The other point, if your context help for a control (say password field) is "Enter Password here", dont bother- if your not going to give me some context then just forget it (On the rare occasions that I may actually think to click help, nothing is more irritating than actually trying to use help on some entry field only to have it mimic the label for the field)

MikeG
Monday, March 08, 2004

On the contrary - I get angry if, instead of a hint, I get a full page of help, and I have to search in that page to find the explanation for a certain control.

I have written very detailed info for almost every field.

Viper Rage
Monday, March 08, 2004

Agree  about "Hint" but in my mind F1 is not 'hint'- It means help for the total context that I am in.  If i want a hint I will press the ? and then the control. 

As long as it is easy and obvious to go from your hint to the main topic it probably doesnt matter.  You just dont want to be in the situation of not being able to find help easily for the whole page (which a new user/newbie of your product is more likely going to want)

MikeG
Monday, March 08, 2004

I think "What's This?" should be narrowly focused on whatever you click on, but F1 should give you help on the whole form, with clear headings so it's easy to scan and find what you're looking for.

Kyralessa
Monday, March 08, 2004

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