Adding WordPress Contextual Help

WordPress 3.0 introduced a concept called Contextual Help.  Contextual Help provides a mechanism for plugins to hook into the standard WordPress Help system.  This is pretty cool because it provides a way to provide Help that is consistent with the WordPress Dashboard.

I’ve had something I’ve called Guidance on almost every page and tab through the plugin and while helpful, it tends to clutter up the interface.  I had a question from our swimteam’s volunteer coordinator about adding more help to the page and I was worried about adding even more clutter.  I tried a couple experiments with a jQuery Dialog solution but I wasn’t happy with the results.  It was then that I wondered if I could make use of the existing Help button in the Dashboard as it is always there on the Dashboard.

After a bit of reading and some experiments I was able to have custom content displayed within the Swim Team Dashboard pages.  However, trying to have different content for each tab was a little more of a challenge.  I ended up solving this problem using a simple jQuery script to swap the default content with some tab specific HTML.  Awesome!  Elegant Help solution achieved!

I am now in the process of retrofitting this new model for every page and every tab which will take a little while.  I expect I will have a build available in a few days but in the mean time, here are a couple screen shots to get an idea of what this new Help model will look like.