RE: Future of documentation in Web-based apps

Subject: RE: Future of documentation in Web-based apps
From: "Glenn Maxey" <glenn -dot- maxey -at- voyanttech -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2001 10:28:19 -0600


I don't think that screen size will be relevant (12" or 35") for
desktop/laptop monitors, because the developers of web-based
applications will tightly control the layout of the page, the position
of application controls relative to one another, and the size of the
initial browser window. Users resizing the window probably won't affect
the layout of fake-buttons and other controls in the application 2/3,
although it would affect the word-wrap in the documentation 1/3.

The only caveat to this prediction is that viewing from PDAs (e.g.,
PalmPilot) will throw a wrench into the whole works. Even if you weren't
dividing the "window" into an application 2/3 and a documentation 1/3 to
allow embedded help, good usability on small devices will be an issue
for even your run-of-the-mill websites.

Hence, the future of web-based applications might even take the approach

- defining and chunking web-application "dialog boxes" that have much
less content and busy-ness per page, and more pages;
- dividing the real estate into an application 1/3 and a documentation
2/3 (just the opposite);
- positioning the controls in the left hand-portion like a list;
- enabling/disabling the embedded help (documentation 2/3) so that PDAs
don't have to display online documentation, just a list of controls.

When using a small PDA device, the web-based applications may take a
200% form. By this, I mean that the application controls will take up
100% of the horizontal space of the visible screen. If the embedded help
is turned on, the user can right-scroll to get another 100% area with
the context-sensitive information.

Just my musings aloud.

Glenn Maxey
Voyant Technologies, Inc.
Tel. +1 303.223.5164
Fax. +1 303.223.5275
glenn -dot- maxey -at- voyanttech -dot- com

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Scott Turner [mailto:quills -at- airmail -dot- net]
> Sent: Thursday, June 28, 2001 8:23 PM
> Subject: RE: Future of documentation in Web-based apps
> >The future for web-based applications and documentation will be
> >embedded, context-sensitive help.
> >
> >Specifically, a fraction of the real-estate for the "dialog box" (or
> >webpage) will be partitioned off to display documentation.
> >Let's say it is always the right 1/3 of the screen
> >(unless the user resizes it or minimizes it).
> >
> >There will be some icon, mouse-over mechanism, etc. in the
> >application 2/3 of the screen that will control the
> >documentation 1/3 to show a list
> >of topics relating to that the "active" item.
> >Or maybe the documentation
> >1/3 just contains a list of topics relating to the items in the
> >application 2/3.
> On what sized screen? 15 inch CRT's are still common. On 17 inch CRTs
> the real estate is still too valuable to lose 1/3 or it.
> Scott


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