Context-Sensitive Help with UPK

The topics of context sensitivity and in-application performance support with UPK don't get enough attention. Many people I run into aren't aware of the capabilities built into UPK (and ODPN). There's a lot to talk about! I'll try to break it up into logical parts. Here's the groundwork.

UPK provides several options for providing context-sensitive help out of the box.

  • Help Menu Integration for supported applications

  • SmartHelp for supported web applications

  • Application-provided context

  • Hardcoded context

UPK can provide context-sensitive help for nearly any application. However, the necessary level of control over the application and the complexity of the solution can vary. Understanding these options will allow you to choose the best solution. You may even learn how to add context-sensitive help to applications which you thought could not support it!

Let’s define what context and context-sensitive help are, and examine how UPK implements them. In general, context is the environment in and the activity which a worker is performing. Context-sensitive help is exactly the information the worker needs to accomplish the activity in the environment. From the UPK perspective, the environment is one or more applications and the worker is the user. The activity is often a transaction or some other step in a business process.

In UPK, context is a set of values computed or passed from the application at the time of help launch that has some relationship to the activity the user is performing. The player package is the UPK output that supports context-sensitivity. It does this in two ways. First, it supports context by filtering the content outline and showing only applicable topics—that is, topics which contain the context passed from the application. Second, when an applicable topic is viewed, the topic advances to the first frame which matches the context passed from the application.

Ideally, context values are unique for every application and activity the user performs. But in practice, it may not be necessary or even desirable to have such detailed context information. We use the term granularity to describe the difference between the number of application states and the uniqueness of context values. The correct granularity for context depends on the number of different activities the user performs and the number of topics covering those activities.

In the next installments, I'll dig into the different methods of providing context-sensitive help with UPK. I promise more pictures and fewer words. ;)


So where's the next installments? That was 8 months ago. Did I miss something??

Posted by Dirk Manuel on July 10, 2009 at 04:29 AM PDT #

Hi Dirk, You didn't miss anything on the blog. However, since this post was written, the SmartMatch feature of UPK has made it a lot easier to provide context-sensitive in-application support for web applications. You can find more info in the FAQ at . Best regards, Matt

Posted by Matt Hicks on July 10, 2009 at 05:18 AM PDT #

Can I recycle previous UPK presentations? And is there a way to make them context sensitive? I have several recordinds that I would like to use but I need them to be context sensitive.
Can you help me?
Thank you,
Paula Ulyssea

Posted by guest on August 30, 2012 at 04:52 AM PDT #

Hi Paula, Context can be added to any new or existing document in the UPK Library. For sections and module documents you can add context using the Context Property which enables you to associate these document types using the context of existing topics or record a new context from a target application.

If you want to capture context for an existing topic you need to open the topic in the topic editor and use the Edit > Re-record Context IDs menu option to launch the launch the recorder to capture the context.

Once you have context IDs for the desired documents you will need to republish the content and deploy the Player using the Help Integration or Smart Help methods. For more information on using UPK to create and deploy context sensitive content, see the product documentation that installed with UPK or visit the on line documentation here:

Here are some links to context specific documentation for v11.1:

Context in topic and non topic documents:

Context Property:

Use Context IDs:

Rerecord Context IDs:

Posted by Peter Maravelias on September 06, 2012 at 02:03 PM PDT #

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The authors of this blog are members of the UPK product development, management, and marketing teams. On this blog, you'll find UPK news, tips/tricks, upcoming events, and general information on UPK - the easy-to-use, comprehensive content development, deployment, and maintenance platform for increasing project, program, and user productivity.


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