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One thing I found very interesting when I was writing for both Win and Mac
applications simultaneously: I tried to use the same Help (with appropriate
modifications) for both platforms, and was told "no!" in no uncertain terms
by the Mac developer.
As it turns out, Mac and Windows aim their Help at *completely* different
users; reading the Microsoft and Apple style guides is like reading French
Microsoft assumes that the user is a clueless dolt, whose hand should be
held at every step. Leave no room for misunderstanding, make everything as
clear as possible to an average three-year old.
Apple assumes that the user knows which end is up, and that they're only
likely to look at the Help if they're having trouble with something. If it's
obvious, if it's visible onscreen, don't insult your reader by putting it in
I much prefer the Apple way of doing things, though I'm a little nervous
about bringing the wrath of the assumed Microsoft user down upon my head...
but the next version of our Help will definitely be reflecting some of
Apple's style rules.
on 1/3/01 3:57 PM, Dan Hall at Dan -at- cooper -dot- com wrote:
> I have a fond (and possibly inaccurate) remembrance of a time when personal
> responsibility was more common. Back when it was reasonable to expect that
> your audience would have an average IQ and exercise a modicum of caution.
> "Danger - this cup contains coffee that is hot."
> "Do not use hairdryer while in the bathtub."
> "Caution - touching hot lamp may cause burns."
> And on and on it goes.
> dan -at- cooper -dot- com
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