FW: Images in help systems

Subject: FW: Images in help systems
From: david -dot- locke -at- amd -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2001 10:05:38 -0500


Help can be accessed via the TOC, index, full-text search, and other tab
methods as well as hyperlinks from conceptual topics, other feature topics,
and task topics. When access in any of these ways, the assumption that the
dialog appears is false.

A dialog doe not usually exist in a standalone form. It is opened from one
or more dialogs, and may open additional browsers or supporting dialogs.
When you move through these topics to understand the open dialog, the
dialogs involved are not being displayed.

At one company I worked for, they had included two topics for every feature
that had the same text in them just so one would have a screenshot and one
wouldn't. That was more of a headache. You had to change the screenshot and
the text in both topics.

Further, the most irritating reason we put screenshots in help is that the
reader likes them--redundant or not. And, when you use the Keep On Top
feature, it doesn't matter what is on the screen, it cannot be seen.

Yes, keeping them updated is a pain. But, I find that using bmps in HTML
Help and making sure they are not converted to other formats goes a long way
to being able to make changes to them before the changes are implemented in
code. Sometimes you have to fake the UI until you can get the real thing. If
you can get the programmers to support the use of the WinHelp shortcut macro
and you are producing WinHelp content, go that way, then updating the
screenshots won't be a problem.

Another thing that goes a long way to reducing screenshot maintenance is
that level 1 SEI CMM will get applications done in terms of small frozen
chunks of whole functionality, which means the UI is real earlier, and will
only change in response to bugs.



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IPCC 01, Oct. 24-27 in Santa Fe. http://ieeepcs.org/2001/

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+++ Seybold SFO, Sept. 25-27, in the Adobe Partners Pavilion +++
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