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''Guided Help'', ''Active Content Wizard'', ''Shortcuts'' and ''Live Action''

The ability to invoke application functionality from within the Help document is known by different names, including "guided help", "active content", "shortcut links", "embedded commands", and "live action". A generic term for such functionality is "active help" or "active content".

Microsoft's ''Guided Help'' (formerly ''Active Content Wizard'')

An active content feature known as Guided Help is included in Microsoft Assistance Platform (AP) Help. The Assistance Platform format is only used by the Windows operating system and OEMs for operating system customisation. The documentation and tools for compiling this format are part of the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) available for download.


Eclipse Help's ''Live Action'' and ''Embedded Commands''

Eclipse Help includes infrastructure for active help, under the name "live action". Live action is described as the ability to invoke Eclipse code from on-line documentation. It is implemented by including JavaScript links which call Eclipse platform functions.

For example, a live action link might be coded as:

<a href='javascript:liveAction(
Open a cheatsheet.</a>

The Eclipse ILiveHelpAction interface is normally used to build the active help action that is called by the live action link.

A related feature called "embedded commands" functions in a similar way. It might be coded as:

<a class="command-link" href='javascript:executeCommand("org.eclipse.ui.perspectives.showPerspective")'>
Select a new perspective</a>

To include such active content links in DITA source, a normal external xref is used.

Note: An example of active help is provided in the Eclipse documentation at:

QuickBooks Shortcut

QuickBooks use a simple JavaScript link to execute a JavaScript function which calls the appropriate application command. QuickBooks is a Windows application, and its Help is provided in Microsoft HTML Help (CHM) format. A link to the Deposit menu might be coded as:

<a href="javascript:qbcommand('qbw:deposit')"><img src="shortcut.gif" /></a>

WinHelp and HTML Help Shortcut

Microsoft WinHelp used to have a method of calling functions in the application, and in starting applications including Control Panel applets. This functionality was carried over into HTML Help, where it was implemented using a shortcut ActiveX object. WinHelp also had a "training card" feature, with interactions (using Windows messaging) between cards and applications.

Active_Content_in_DITA_Help (last edited 2011-01-24 22:28:55 by tself)