Like to pimp your help, eh?

Assuming you have help content and it comprises more than a couple of sentences, your users will explore it by searching the whole content or by following hyperlink by hyperlink, digging deeper level by level into the table of contents. In Eclipse Help it is also possible to search only part of the content by defining a scope or by selecting a topic and searching its subtopics. But this is rarely used because it is cumbersome. Also the wildcards ‘*’, ‘?’ and the boolean operators NOT and OR are rarely used. Just like with Google or DuckDuckGo people tend to search for keywords only.

Autocomplete, instant search and more

Eclipse Luna Help Demo Page
To make searching easier I developed for Advantest a small JavaScript which Advantest made Open Source. It is used to pimp the Advantest SOC help cover page by a search field with autocomplete, instant search (= search results are shown as you type), book selector drop-down menu and input assistance for complex queries.

Try it!

The Advantest SOC help is for customers only, but you can see the JavaScript eh.js (uncompressed, compressed) in action at the Eclipse Luna Help demo page which I have created. Because in JavaScript cross-domain callbacks (which are required for the instant search) are forbidden, this sample page misuses a proxy which makes it slower than when integrated into your help. To see the content of a topic by hovering a search result you have to allow insecure content: click the shield icon in the address bar:
Click the shield icon in the address bar  to allow insecure content

Get inspired

eh.js can also be used for searching a particular part such as a book or a chapter: Place the mouse over a TOC item link to display a search field for this topic and its subtopics only. Eclipse Luna Help contains 66 books and probably you do not want to get your search results flooded by hits in all of them. Or maybe you will use eh.js as a starting point to develop a complete new user interface for the good old Eclipse Help. What should it look like?

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