I don’t think I’ve ever explained how Help pages are developed, maybe I did in the Intensive Training classes. Anyway, let me explain that here.
The master for the help is a Panorama database here at ProVUE. This database contains a record for each help topic. Each record contains the help text itself (written in Markdown), and other information like the topic name, file name, see also links, version, etc.
Whenever a page is modified, the final step is to publish the page, which converts the Markdown source into the actual HTML file. In the process it also automatically resolves inter-page links, see-also links, etc. The system then automatically uploads the revised HTML page to provue.com. As Dave pointed out, you can always view this using the Open Topic in Browser command.
Whenever a version of Panorama is released, all of the HTML pages are copied into the app itself. So Panorama contains a self contained copy of the help system. This copy is “frozen”, it doesn’t update, except of course when you install a new copy of Panorama.
As Dave pointed out, viewing the text of a Help page within the app doesn’t require an internet connection. All of the text is inside the app. This text is also used for searching. However, the app does not include all of the images and animations in the help pages. These are on the provue.com server and loaded as needed by the help web browser. Why aren’t these included in the app? Panorama help includes a LOT of media files, currently over 2,000 media files that require 633 Mb of space. So including these files would pump up the size of the Panorama application to nearly a gigabyte. Of course the drawback is that if you don’t have an internet connection, you won’t see the images. So far not a single customer has complained about this.
Now to Robert’s question – what about corrections? When you open the correction window, Panorama loads the source from provue.com. If you are making a correction, you need the latest version of the source available. Otherwise you would be making corrections, but submitted with an old version of the source so we would be going backwards or in circles!
When a correction is submitted, it goes into a queue. Periodically I go thru the queue to apply the corrections to the master. This is done semi-automatically. Each correction is reviewed manually using a diff viewer, but if approved the change is made automatically (i.e. not by hand editing in the correction).
It’s possible that two people could submit corrections to the same page in a short time, causing a conflict. In that event, some hand editing will be necessary. But this has happened very rarely, I think only 2 or 3 times out of nearly a thousand corrections submitted.