A hyperlink is a feature that points to additional information from a specific area in a topic. A pointerpath is a feature that points to a topic in a specific scope or context of a project and it can be used in a hyperlink.
Why using a pointerpath in a hyperlink?
A system that strictly separates structure from content supports a high level of content reusability allowing you to use a single content object in several aspects. A side effect of this approach is that the context of the individual content objects is not always clearly defined. Compare it with the paragraphs in a text file of a common word processor. There the individual paragraphs cannot be shared by other files. Hence, the context of a paragraph is always the file.
The context of the hyperlink target demonstrates the effect of a hyperlinked content object pulled out of its context. If this is not what users want then a pointerpath in combination with an alias can catch this effect. The usage of pointers and aliases is also explained in Using the content in help and documentation systems. Here we will demonstrate the usage of pointerpaths and aliases in hyperlinks.
This approach is only applicable to project related content objects.
Assume we want to use many hyperlinks to content objects of the 'Fishes' book in the 'Animal information' sample project. If the 'Fishes' book is not part of the browsed content, then these hyperlinks will work fine but they are shown as a separate topic out of the context of the 'Fishes' book. And this is where the definition of a context (or scope) comes in. We need both pointerpaths and an alias to obtain this because a pointerpath cannot operate on its own.
In our example here an alias is already available for the 'Animals' project folder. It was assigned automatically the moment the project was created. If you stick to this alias then the 'Animals' folder will be the context of all the hyperlinks.
If you think this context would be to wide for the 'Fishes' content objects then you can assign a new alias to the 'Fishes' book. And indeed, in this example that would make more sense. So, first create a new alias in one of the following ways.
Assigning an alias in the table editor
You select the folder that contains the books in the tree and then on the table on the right you popup the menu of the 'Fishes' book. Then select 'Assign alias'.
Assigning an alias in the tree
Or you can popup the menu of the 'Fishes' book in the tree and select 'Project > Assign alias'.
Entering the object name
An alias consists of the project name and an object name. The project name is already defined. Just enter a reasonable object name.
Confirming the alias
Confirm the alias assignment.
Now we can create the pointerpath to the content object: 'Topic: About the shark'. This is the object we are going to use as a hyperlink in another book later. A pointerpath is a bunch of short strings concatenated with a dot. Each string in the path leads the hyperlink closer to its target within its context.
Adding a pointer on the first level
Select the 'Fishes' book in the tree. In the table on the right double click in the cell under the 'Pointer' column of the 'Chapter: The shark' item. Enter a string that is unique within the table. Click outside the cell to stop editing. Next, select the 'Chapter: The shark' in the tree to enter a pointer for the containing 'Topic: About the shark'.
Adding a pointer on a deeper level
Save the book and then the scope and the location of the topic is clearly defined.
An alias to a folder defines a context or a scope for the folder and its dependants.
A pointerpath is the location of a content object in that context and it is always associated with an alias.