Making _on line_ Help be the default?
- To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
- Subject: [mg92346] Making _on line_ Help be the default?
- From: AES <siegman at stanford.edu>
- Date: Sat, 27 Sep 2008 22:24:50 -0400 (EDT)
- Organization: Stanford University
Two lines from a recent post: > See this link: > http://reference.wolfram.com/mathematica/ref/Dot.html bring up an immediate thought: Any way to make the Help key in Mathematica (either the HELP key on my extended keyboard or the standard keyboard equivalent) go *by default* to the "on line" (Internet) link like the one above, instead of to the nominally identical "on disk" version of the same material that's on my hard disk? [Or, go to this on line (OL) version if I'm Internet-connected -- which I am a large fraction of the time -- and go to the on disk (OD) version if I'm not?} If so, this would be a truly vast improvement in the friendliness and usability of this documentation, aka a damn good idea. Why is that? 1) The OL documentation opens up in a much bigger browser window, which can be easily preset to be sized and positioned as the user might like. 2) Once the OL window opens I can instantly enlarge the type face to a readable size by a few Cmd + keystrokes (not possible in the OD version). 3) Once the OL window opens I can just hit the down arrow key and rapidly page down through the displayed material (not possible in the OD version). 4) My browser has a much better "Find" capability for searching down through the window contents than does Mathematica. 5) Ditto for Print (maybe not 'much better', but better). 6) I can toggle back and forth between this Help window and the Mathematica notebook window I'm working in with single Cmd-Tab commands (haven't yet found an easy way to do this in Mathematica -- ???). In fact, could easily have multiple Help window open, in multiple browser tabs. 7) Wolfram could update/revise/improve the OL version one page (one command) at a time, and each change would be instantly available to everyone, without needing to do some more complex distribution of an updated version of the whole app to Mathematica users. (Might stimulate some serious attention to the nagging defects of many of these Help pages.) There are probably other benefits I haven't thought of off the cuff -- for example, people with minimal HTML skills (lots more of those around than people with deep Mathematica skills) might be able to download selected OL pages and build or print their own custom manuals to serve their own custom needs. And maybe, in the long run, since Wolfram is already maintaining the HTML pages anyway, they could strip all the Help apparatus out of Mathematica itself, and remove one non-trivial bit of complexity from Mathematica, letting it do better at its primary jobs.