Opinions Sought: Tool tips and What's This Help

Subject: Opinions Sought: Tool tips and What's This Help
From: "Darren Barefoot" <darren -dot- barefoot -at- capeclear -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2002 14:17:50 -0000

We're considering extending the functionality of our (already pretty
robust) help system. We already have some tool tips throughout the
product, but they've been written in a haphazard style by the
programmers. We're considering standardizing the tool tips and ensuring
that every control gets one.

Additionally, we're discussing implementing "What's This" help, which,
for the uninitiated, enables you to click a button or select a menu
command that changes your mouse cursor to a combination arrow/question
mark. When you then click a button, field or other GUI control, you get
a small pop-up box which explains the function of that control.

What's the general opinion on these strategies? Are they worth doing? Do
you, as a user, actually refer to either of these kinds of information?
I would imagine that "What's This" help is more applicable for neophyte
computer users, who aren't familiar with common GUI conventions. I,
personally, rarely refer to tool tips and never, ever use "What's This"

All opinions welcome. Thanks. DB.

Darren Barefoot
Technical Writer
Cape Clear Software

We're tragedians, you see? We follow directions...
there is no choice involved. The bad end unhappily,
the good unluckily. That is what tragedy means.
--Player, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

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