Help Menu Creation Software

How do I create a help menu using the same style as the Panorama X help menu. This is a great system that includes short video clips to show how things are done, hyperlinks to other topics and a section at the bottom for “See Also”. What software does Jim use to create this?

It’s a Panorama database. Find in Applications, right-click on it, select ‘Show Package Contents’, then navigate to Contents/Resources/Wizards and copy Panorama Help.pandb to somewhere of your own where you can edit it.

There is a thread about this from a few weeks ago but at the moment I can’t find it.

Thanks, found t. Now to figure out how to create my own.

This is a great system

THANK YOU! I’ve literally poured years of work into this, so it really means a lot when someone notices.

What software does Jim use to create this?

As Peter mentioned, the help system is created using a Panorama database. However, the database that is included inside Panorama is not the database that is used to actually create the help system. I have a private database on my system on my computer that is used to edit and build the help. Usually the last thing I do before uploading a new Panorama update is to run a command that converts that private database into the actual help system that you get. That’s a big job that usually takes an hour or two. Fortunately it mostly runs by itself with no manual intervention needed, except for a minute or two at the end.

Before you ask, the private database I use is not available. It’s really fine tuned specifically for generating the Panorama Help, and wouldn’t be suitable for anyone else. Plus it’s pretty complicated and completely undocumented, so it’s not really something I would be able to support anyone else using. It’s full of little hacks that I use but would be a nightmare to explain to anyone else.

That said, this system does NOT use any special private features of Panorama. There’s nothing to stop anyone else from creating their own similar system, other than the time it would take.

By the way, the short video clips are really animated GIFs, which you can use in any web page (and Panorama Help pages are just web pages). Most of these were generated with a program called Claquette which is available in the Mac App Store. The rest were generated with a program called ScreenFlow (which I also use for all the longer videos). Once an animated GIF is created it can be used anywhere a still image can be used. The hard part is not making the animated GIF itself, but in setting up the demo files.

Hi Jim,

Thanks for replying to my questions. As I said, it is a great help menu. I would go so far as to say that it is the best I have ever seen. I can see that you have spent hundreds of hours creating and perfecting this – a job very well done.

I wasn’t actually trying to copy anything as I was more interested in finding what you used so that when I do create my own solutions, I could use the same for my “How-To” documents. I have copied the database to a separate directory in the hope that it will provide an offline solution. I do a lot of my learning offline and being able to access the help menu with all the links and GIFs is important.

Since I posted the request, I have done a bit of digging in Google. I have found that I can use ScreenFlow (which I have) to create the GIFs and I have already produced a few to prove that it works. I also found that the way to produce the text is to use a markup program. Your recommendation was MultiMarkup and I have downloaded it but not used it yet. I also found out that I can use Scrivener (again, I already have this) to create the document and then compile as HTML.

It is a steep learning curve ahead of me, but one that will be well worth it in the end.

I have been on and off with Panorama for several years. Most of my work has been with Filemaker and I have decided that I am going to phase out of Filemaker completely. Their pricing structures prohibit small developers like myself that only need one or two databases for personal use. I have looked at many others and none are as good as Panorama. Mind you, Panorama does have a few limitations though. It only runs on the Mac and as far as I am aware – the server still has some bugs. Cross platform with a simple and stable server would be the cream on the cake.

BTW, are you the only one doing all the work? Do you a team in the background that also does the development and supporting documents?

I am sure you will be seeing many more posts from me soon as I have many questions floating around in my head. I will do my research first before I post.


Ivan Maesepp