Common Desktop Environment: Help System Author's and Programmer's Guide


This manual describes how to develop online help for Common Desktop Environment application software. It covers how to create help topics and how to integrate online help into an OSF/Motif(TM) application.

Who Should Use This Book

The audience for this book includes:

How This Book Is Organized

This book has four parts. Part 1 describes the collaborative role that authors and developers undertake to design application help. Part 2 provides information for authors organizing and writing online help. Part 3 describes the Help System application programmer's toolkit. Part 4 contains information for both authors and programmers about preparing online help for different language environments.

This book includes these chapters:

Part 1-- Introduction

Chapter 1, Introducing the Help System, provides an overview of authors' and developers' collaborative role in producing online help.

Part 2-- The Author's Job

Chapter 2, Organizing and Writing a Help Volume, describes the components that make up a help volume.

Chapter 3, Writing a Help Topic, introduces the Help System markup language and gives examples of elements used to format different types of information. It describes how to include graphics and create hyperlinks.

Chapter 4, Processing and Displaying a Help Volume, describes how to process a marked-up file (or files) to generate a single run-time file for online viewing.

Chapter 5, HelpTag Markup Reference, lists in alphabetical order the HelpTag markup language elements, with an example of each element.

Chapter 6, Summary of Special Character Entities, provides a list of characters and associated entity names that can be used to insert special characters into help topic text.

Chapter 7, Command Summary, summarizes how to process and view a help volume by entering commands in a terminal emulator window.

Chapter 8, Reading the HelpTag Document Type Definition, describes the HelpTag DTD and how to use it to create fully compliant Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) help files.

Part 3-- The Programmer's Job

Chapter 9, Creating and Managing Help Dialog Boxes, introduces the Help Dialog widgets and explains how to use them.

Chapter 10, Responding to Help Requests, explains how an application provides entry points to access different types of help.

Chapter 11, Handling Events in Help Dialogs, shows how an application can use a callback structure to handle hyperlink events.

Chapter 12, Providing Help on Help, describes how an application can provide a help module that tells users how to use the Help System.

Chapter 13, Preparing an Installation Package, covers what to include in an installation package to supply online help with an application.

Part 4-- Internationalization

Chapter 14, Native Language Support, identifies language-dependent files used by the Help System.

Glossary is a list of words and phrases found in this book and their definitions.

Related Books

Related Common Desktop Environment books that you may find helpful are:

For a technical description of Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), refer to:

What Typographic Changes and Symbols Mean

The following table describes the type changes and symbols used in this book.

Table P-1 Typographic Conventions

Typeface or Symbol 




The names of commands, files, and directories; onscreen computer output 

Edit your .login file.

Use ls -a to list all files.

system% You have mail.



Command-line placeholder: 

replace with a real name or value 

To delete a file, type rm filename.


Book titles, new words or terms, or words to be emphasized 

Read Chapter 6 in the User's Guide. These are called class options. You must be root to do this.