CogentHelp is an authoring tool for on-line application help, developed by CoGenTex under a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II award from Rome Laboratory (USAF). CogentHelp partially automates the production of help for graphical user interfaces (GUIs), by compiling human-authored help "snippets" associated with each component of an application's GUI into a well-structured, interconnected HTML-based help system. It also generates help topics dynamically, so that they reflect the current state of the application at runtime.


  • Supports Java applets, allowing applications as well as their on-line help to be deployed over intranets or the Web.
  • Automatically checks consistency of GUI-oriented help topics with the application itself, informing the help author of any missing or obsolete topics.
  • Automates most of the "drudge" work of constructing a complex system of hypertext documents with consistent formatting and style.
  • Provides navigation support through expandable table of contents; web search engines can also be integrated.
  • Supports integration of hand-written topics with topics that are generated from help "snippets".
  • Supports extensive customization, through CoGenTex's Exemplars framework.
  • Caldwell, David and White, Michael (1997). CogentHelp: A Tool for Authoring Dynamically Generated Help for Java GUIs. In Proceedings of the 15th Annual International Conference on Computer Documentation (SIGDOC '97), Salt Lake City, UT, pp. 17-22. [Acrobat, 71 Kb]
  • White, Michael and Caldwell, David (1997). CogentHelp: NLG Meets SE in a Tool for Authoring Dynamically Generated On-Line Help. In Proceedings of the Fifth Conference on Applied Natural Language Processing, Washington, DC, pp. 257-264. [GZipped PostScript, 135 Kb]