Tagging Help File pages

Back in the days of program documentation when it came in a bound book, I used to read from the Preface & Acknowledments to the Index. Now, reading Online Help is a bit more difficult.

Does anyone have any ideas how to read all of the documentation? It always seems so disjointed and I end up on the same pages over and over when using the hyperlinks for the See Also… What I’d really like is to be able to highlite or checkbox a page or be able to search for unread pages. Ideas?

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This calls for a simple Panorama database!

There is a web page with the Table of Contents to PanX Help pages. http://www.provue.com/panoramax/help/toc_panorama.html
Each entry there links to the help page. I copied that page and pasted it into a TextEdit document. That preserves the links so on can click the name and page opens in a browser. You can then edit those entries to mark the ones you read.

I think you could also import that into a PanX database and have more flexible possibilities for marking things as read or add whatever notations you like.

I am not sure if this list is kept completely up to date.

This table of contents is generated automatically, so it is actually kept up-to-date with every release.


In fact, when viewed on the web this TOC is more up-to-date than the released software. It actually reflects the TOC as of the most recent beta version. So if you view pages from this page, be careful to check the bottom of the page for the version to make sure you are not looking at a feature you don’t have access to (if you view the TOC within Panorama itself, you don’t have to worry about this).

That’s very commendable. I used to like to do that myself. When I started learning how to program Objective-C and Cocoa a decade ago, I had of goal of reading all of Apple’s documentation on the subject. That proved to be impossible, in fact, there wasn’t even a comprehensive list of all of the PDF files. I was still discovering new PDF files a couple of years in. Apparently at one point there were over 3,000 PDF files, ranging from a dozen pages to hundreds of pages. So not possible to read them all.

Now Apple no longer uses PDF, just HTML, the same as ProVUE. It is a disadvantage as far as reading the entire thing, but I think it is clear that the ease of searching, of updating, and the ability to include animation override the drawbacks.

The Panorama Help is actually in a database. If it is open, you can use this formula to build a list of all topics.

let topicList = arraybuild(cr(),"Panorama Help",{Page})

You could then save this into a text file, put it in your own database, whatever. If you put it in a database, you can use code like this to re-open a specific help page at any time:

let pagename = "arraybuild("
openwizard "Panorama Help",

This example is fixed to always open the arraybuild( page, but obviously you can use any page you want. Note that some page names contain leading spaces, these are significant and cannot be omitted.

While I could not imagine reading all of Apple’s documentation, I can hope to read all of ProVUE’s documentation as ProVUE has a smaller team working on Panorama’s docs. I’m of the mind that if ProVUE felt it was worth writing, then it deserves to be read.

While I can access Help pages from my db, and note the date that I did visit that particular page from my db, what I will always be lacking is the ability to automatically keep that current when using the hyperlinks from within the Help pages. I’ve come to love Amazon’s web page notes ‘You last purchased this item on May 3,2019’ or ‘You last visited this page on June 4, 2018’. In documentation I’d love to see a selection of pages I’ve never visited. That could be truly educational.

I do get that all of this stuff could only happen long after Team Server is released but at least I need to share that the breadth of the commands and functions is overwhelming. Thanks for that.

Help is a PanX database, albeit one interfaced via a fancy form and custom menus. If you feel sufficiently motivated and brave you may be able to modify your copy yourself to do what you want. I don’t encourage that, but would guess reinstalling PanX or updating it would overwrite your changes so your risk would be small. You’d have to remake your modifications after updates or re-installs, but could write a procedure to do that for you.

I knew you could display your Amazon purchase history, but until just now I didn’t know you could display your “view history”. Interesting. In my case it looks like it goes back about 6 months, it doesn’t appear that I can determine that I visited something in 2018.

Wouldn’t it be fun if Amazon could display a list of everything I’ve never visited on Amazon :rofl:

The tutorial pages each have links to relevant topics. One of my goals with the tutorial was that if you read the tutorial, and followed the links, you would have covered most of the core functionality of the program. Certainly not 100% of the documentation, but most of the important stuff.

Amazon has a big incentive to keep track of this history, because they want you to buy this stuff, and stuff you’ve recently viewed or purchased is low hanging fruit. While I agree that Panorama having the ability to track which pages you’ve read would be kind of cool, it would probably be quite a bit of work for a feature that probably only a tiny percentage of users would care about. It would be awesome if the majority of users wanted to read all of the documentation, but in general it seems like a struggle to get most users to read even one page. Perhaps tracking which pages have been read would enable a bit of gamification that might encourage reading more, though I’m not sure if being able to know that you’ve read 4% of the documentation would encourage users to read more or to give up! It might be useful to be able to list recently accessed pages though, for example pages read today or within the last week. But I think that would be quite complicated to do, because I really don’t want to store that information in the Help database itself, since that is embedded in Panorama.app. It would have to be stored in the Preferences folder and synchronized.

I don’t really want to argue with such a laudable goal, but honestly, if you never read about the alertoksmall statement, I can’t say that your Panorama knowledge would really have a significant hole in it!

I think it would be pretty easy to update your database whenever a new version of Panorama was released. Just append the topic names, sort and unpropagate to eliminated the duplicates and you’re done.

The awkward part is that you would have to manually mark that you had read a topic. If this feature was built into Panorama it could mark as read for you. Though that is tricky – if I click on a topic, then close the window or click away 5 seconds later, have I read that topic? What about 30 seconds? There’s not going to be any 100% reliable metric for determining that a page has actually been read. I guess I could provide a “Mark as Unread” menu item and then it would be up to you to use that if you close the window or click away without actually reading. See how things get complicated?

Jim, please do stay focused on Team Server but do save this thread for later reading. I’m commenting only because this is important stuff to me and I believe ProVUE as well.

And ProVUE does not have an incentive for people to use more commands and functions? After someone has opted to purchase Panorama X, the sale has just begun. Now you want their love. The easiest, most effective, and efficient form of sales is from recommendations from users to their businesses, friends, and relatives. Only after a user has ‘mastered’ Panorama will that happen. Helping them learn Panorama’s options and capabilities is the path to more sales.

As for tracking, I wouldn’t mind it if ProVUE tracked the functions and commands that I used. ProVUE would then know what functions and command that I should not be ‘recommended’ to use as I’m already purchasing those.

When Panorama starts up, a splash screen could display stating ‘It looks like you haven’t used Aggregate lately. Click here to see how it can change your life. (Or whatever underused function wasn’t appearing in the user’s procedures.)

and stuff you’ve recently viewed or purchased is low hanging fruit

Speaking of low hanging fruit, I want Panorama to sell me on functions I may want to purchase…

If I type Append Array in the Search box, Topics shows nothing! The ArrayMultiSort page displays.

If I type ArrayAppend, DataArrayAppend does show up in the Topics list. Again, the ArrayMultiSort page displays.

Wouldn’t it be appropriate to also sell me AppendDataArray in the Topics?

The Topics list could show ArrayChange for those items that I have not yet used or read the topic page for and plain text for those pages that I have read giving me a clue that perhaps it is in the unread or unused Topics that my answer might lie.

Who wants to pick up the dictionary to start reading it. But perhaps if we can be led to a few interesting pages (based on the functions and commands we use, or haven’t read), then it might not seem overwhelming.

Bottom line: Recommend similar things that I haven’t used and haven’t recently read the docs for. It is not simple or easy but what love relationship isn’t work and hard.

Though that is tricky – if I click on a topic, then close the window or click away 5 seconds later, have I read that topic?

Our mail program already does this. It waits some short amount of time and if the email is left open beyond that time, it is marked as having been read. The user can manually reset it to being Unread. Panorama should do the same. But not via a menu, but rather a checkbox in the upper right corner of the Help page. In our face easy.

Sorry but my mind can’t stop.
How about the user being able to set a Flag on a Help page. Things like ‘Read Later’ or ‘Handy’ or whatever. I know that I regularly need to see again the format of a function. Being able to see my Go To regularly use via a Flag could make Help easier and handier.

And when I search fo ‘Trim’, I only see help with ‘Trim’ in their name. Mightn’t it be wise to offer up things like text funnels as those ‘trim’ text too.

And being able to see all of the Text manipulation commands with one grab. If I was to see that I’ve only read 20% of them, that might tell me that my answer lies in the unknown ones. Panorama can do anything. We just have to find or remember what that darn function was named.

I agree I find the help very hard to use. I’ve been using Panorama since Jim brought it out. The book was my goto man.

Some years back, I proof-read the entire documentation (in alpha order with the occasional side trip to clarify stat/funcs that were totally unfamiliar to me) for Jim and learned an awful lot along the way. It certainly wasn’t a trivial exercise and I suspect the documentation is now at least twice the volume it was then but a complete read is still possible.

If that happened to me every time I opened Panorama X, I complain loudly and I don’t think I’d be Robinson Crusoe.

“whatever underused function wasn’t appearing in the user’s procedures” comprises thousands of stat/funcs.

Years ago, I lobbied Jim to produce a “Panorama Lite” and even offered to help select a framework for it. Understandably, Jim saw that as a low priority. I did a little work on devising a framework (this was Panorama 6.0) for my own interest and quickly realised that it was one really scary task. Nevertheless, if there was a Panorama Lite, it would make the learning curve a lot less steep.