Specifying the Navigation Components

The navigation components are an important part of an effective online help system. If users can’t find the information for which they need help, they will lose faith in the help system. One disappointing fact is that users won’t give your navigation system many chances to prove itself. Users generally search for a help topic only a few times before they give up on finding it.

This section provides some tips on creating an effective navigation facility. Its focus, however, is to show you how to specify the various JavaHelp navigation components: the TOC, index, and word-search index.

Creating the Table of Contents

A HelpSet’s TOC should function the same way as a traditional book’s TOC. Users look in the TOC to find topics arranged by subject matter.

If you have been following my practices for planning a JavaHelp project, you are off to a good start planning a well-designed TOC. In discussing project planning and preparing topics in previous chapters, I encouraged you to group related subjects within their own directories to keep them organized. You can now use this same structure to present the TOC for your HelpSet. Since you already organized the directories and topic files by subject, simply mimic that structure in the TOC. The only difference is that, in the TOC, you should not necessarily alphabetize the topics within a directory. Organize the topics in a logical order according the concepts the users must know and procedures they must perform. ...

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