Re: Online Help for Palm Pilot

Subject: Re: Online Help for Palm Pilot
From: "Elliott C. Evans" <eeyore+ -at- cmu -dot- edu>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2001 17:08:00 -0500

Hiller, Jana.Otto wrote:
> I'm writing online help for a Palm Pilot application, and I'm wondering if
> anyone has any resources or tips on how the documentation content should be
> written and presented for this format.

Typically, online help for Palm applications is limited to "tips" for using
specific screens and pop-ups. Longer documentation is usually available as
separate web pages or DOC files.

> At each "page" of the application, there is a Help link at the bottom, so
> my topics can be context-sensitive.

I'm being picky, but the "standard" for Palm apps is to have a little "i"
button in the title bar of screens that have tips associated with them.

> I'm giving the programmer HTML files, and he will format them for the Palm
> (in other words, I will compose in straight HTML and don't have to worry
> about a HAT).

Stick to plain text. You can have bullets and such, but no paragraph or
style tags are usually available.

> Is there anything else in particular I should know, or pitfalls to avoid?

Be aware that the tips window usually covers the application window, and
due to the small size of the screen, cannot be moved out of the way.

> For example, how is navigation typically handled within the help,
> and between the help and the application?

Typically, tapping on the "i" in the title bar or choosing "Help..." from
one of the menus brings up the "Tips" dialog. This dialog can contain more
than one screenful of text; it has scroll buttons if it does. The reader
pages through the tip sheet, and can return to the application at any time
by tapping the "Done" button. I have never seen a tip sheet with links to
other tips sheets.

> I've checked the archives, and although there's some info about emulators
> and other technical stuff related to the Palm, there's almost nothing about
> actual documentation content and design.

Emulators are your friend! If you can't get your hands on an actual device,
download the emulator from Palm. This will also aid you in taking screen
captures if you're also producing printed or web docs.
Elliott C. "Eeyore" Evans eeyore+ -at- cmu -dot- edu


Develop HTML-Based Help with Macromedia Dreamweaver 4 ($100 STC Discount)
**New Dates!!** San Francisco (Apr 16-17), San Jose (Mar 29-30) or 800-646-9989.

IPCC 01, the IEEE International Professional Communication Conference,
October 24-27, 2001 at historic La Fonda in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.

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