Design of Rhino Help

OK, Guys, it’s time for some feedback.

The current Help that Rhino for the Mac uses is the help created for the Windows version. The design of this help file is nothing like the Help that comes with an application written for Macintosh computers. I’m starting to redesign the Help so it is more compatible with other Mac applications.

To all you regular Mac users, please take a look at the Help file and tell me what bugs you about it.

1 Like

This topic is now pinned. It will appear at the top of its category until it is either unpinned by a moderator, or the Clear Pin button is pressed.

just to be clear, are you talking about tying in to osx’s help center? (the blank thing that currently opens upon clicking Help-> Rhino Help)

because if you are, that will be sweet… very few non-apple apps (that i know of) do this.

[edit-- well, just checked some applications and maybe around 40% non-apple apps are using it… anyway… that’s what you’re talking about, right?]

Hi, Jeff,

Yes, We are planning to add support for the Mac Help Viewer directly, so the blank page actually does something instead of just opening the generic Rhino Help.

What I want to know is when you get to the Rhino web help, are there things that bug you about the layout or functionality?

hmm. while I like to give feedback/input when applicable, this is an area where I’m not comfortable/confident saying ‘it should be like this’

personally, my needs are fairly simple when it comes to help files… I like to be able to search a specific command/problem when I need to -or- see a list of all commands that I can randomly browse through when I’m in more of a learning mood.

and that’s basically it for me… the current http help already does this and the ‘look’ of it feels out of place on mac but other than that, no qualms… I’m sure you’ll come up with something good

Thanks. I’m hoping to come up with a design that won’t offend either side. :wink:

I am curious if there’s any concept on OS X about context-sensitive help? I think it’s great in Windows that while you’re running the Circle command, we can display the help for the Circle command, or - if you aren’t showing real-time help - take you to the topic when you press F1.

@marlin - are we going to be able to do any of this from Mac Rhino?

Mac Rhino could do what Windows Rhino does, which is display content in a window that relates to the current command. It’s not implemented at the OS level so it’s not an OS thing.

I’m assuming here that the actual content for the context help window is fetched using a URL and is not part of what is shipped with Mac Rhino. Shipping all those short videos in the app would take a huge amount of disk space.

Even so, I’m not sure how useful this context help window would actually be. All those videos are in Flash. I, and many other Mac users, have disabled or deleted Flash off our computers long ago. Apple stopped shipping Flash with the OS back in 2010, so all those videos will show up as black rectangles. It won’t be a “it just works” solution.

Although people can go find and download Flash to make these work, I and many others refuse to do so. Flash was, in the past, such a wonderful virus vector on the Mac that Flash will never be invited back onto my computer. H.264 is a good cross-platform video format, but it would mean translating all the existing Flash videos.

What video format is preferred for Mac users?

I’m going to hazard a guess and say quicktime (.mov)…

That was my guess, too. The reasons we used SWF in the first place were:

  • Smallest file size
  • I had a good, simple, cheap video capture tool that only
    created .swf.
  • Making movies required using Apple tools that tried to
    take control of my computer to “help” me.
  • Cross-browser support.

I need the same things going forward. Things have changed a lot since those days. :smile:

I would say that Camtasia Studio could work for you; it can output a variety of formats including .mov. Their cheaper product Snagit only outputs .mp4…

I’ve used Camtasia studio on the past. It was just way more complicated (i.e., does more than I need) than the app I use now: ViewletCam. But that shouldn’t stop me. I’m just being lazy. I currently use SnagIt for all the still image captures. @marlin, how about you? Any thoughts?

i wouldn’t say there’s a concept of it on osx… none of the apple.apps (that i know of) do it…

osx concept of help is sort of a command line thing… from any app, you can go to the help menu (or cmmd-?) and start typing… suggestions will start popping up and at the very least will give you a visual cue as to where the item sits within the menu structures… (you can pretty much control an app via the keyboard + arrows and help menu alone… assuming it’s not a highly mouse dependent application)…

if the application is hooked up to the help center, such as what margaret is doing, the help menu will grow a new section which gives suggestions to the help topics…

but i know of one app at least on mac which has the real-time help and it’s sketchup (in sketchup, window->instructor)… depending on what native tool you choose, the window will animate the operation and give some instructions/tips. aside from those 15 or so options, the rest of the help gets linked to the the web.

[oh, and future reference… f keys are pretty much non existent on macs… they’re hardware controls instead… but over the next few years you’ll hopefully see more and more of these weirdo no_f_keys people around here and not bringing up the f word may spare some confusion :smiley: ]

We should be using codec names (like H.264) and not file extension names in this discussion. A .mov file is a container file format that can contain videos in many different video formats.

I suggested H.264 since I believe both Windows and OS X both support that format natively.

Starting in 2011, Intel provided hardware H.264 decoders in their CPUs, so displaying H.264 video on modern CPUs should be rather efficient.

I am still assuming that the help window contents is delivered as a HTML page, as I have not heard differently. H.264 is part of the HTML5 standard. On the Mac, I can embed a web browser window inside Rhino and assume this is all I need to do to display H.264 videos in Mac Rhino. Can you embed a web browser window in Windows Rhino, and will it display HTML5?

I think the in-rhino browser uses whatever IE version is currently installed on windows. There MIGHT be a simple way to grab webkit to render a page, but I’m guessing it’s easier to just tell windows to ‘display this page’ than to debug yet another project.

This is, I think a question for @stevebaer.

I think this is a question for @stevebaer

I certainly can create the help as HTML5.

@nates is correct. The web browser that we embed in Windows Rhino for context help is Internet Explorer and the version of IE is based on what version the user has installed on their computer. Support for the HTML5 feature set is then based on what the user has installed.

More important is what version of IE supports the specific video feature that you are looking for. A quick search on the internet tells me that IE9 supports H.264.

Jeff that’s not completely correct I use ‘F’ keys constantly while working on Rhino for Mac that’s why the ‘fn’ key was created and there’s an option inside System Preferences to disable Apple function keys, but I guess some people would prefer a palette for it (I’m a keyboard guy) :smile:.

Margaret if you are currently revamping Rhino Help you could indeed take advantage of HTML5 and make the help cross-platform, to make it so you could use the new video tag (example) :


How to use Boolean Union


By using the video tag every browser would pickup his own video format and people would be able to open the help from both PC & Mac and also from their phones and tablets, I know it’s a bit annoying to encode every video but to be able to open Rhino help on your iPhone while you’re AFK could be extremely useful.
Here’s the formats chart: