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:
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.
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