Online help queries?

Subject: Online help queries?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 3 Jun 2002 09:10:01 -0400

Rohini Gogi wonders: <<The application has user entry forms to accept some
data. In the online help, do you refer to the data entry form as a form or a

Depends on who the help is being written for. If you're writing for someone
who must fill in the form, then call it what they would call it: a form. If
you're writing for someone who's programming the form for the aforementioned
user, then you could refer to it as a window or dialog box; technically
speaking, just about anything displayed in a windowing GUI is a window, and
dialog boxes are specific types of windows that request feedback (hold a
dialogue with the user).

<<This data entry form has field which already has field level help. Now in
the online help that I am developing, do I get into details as to what has
to be entered in what field or I just list the inputs that the user must
enter in that form. For example: The form has Name, Address etc. If I place
the cursor on the Name text box, the application displays a message saying
whose name(the merchant name, assistant's name) has to be entered.>>

Because users may never realize that the field-level help is available, it's
safer to repeat that text in the online help. Then go beyond that to provide
details you couldn't fit into the field-level help.

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada
"User's advocate" online monthly at
"Writing, in a way, is listening to the others' language and reading with
the others' eyes."--Trinh T. Minh-Ha, "Woman native other"

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