What do you want from help? (clarification)

Subject: What do you want from help? (clarification)
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2005 10:51:37 -0400


Bill Swallow asked for clarification about my comment that "I've yet to see an HTMLHelp implementation that was as easy to use and as effective as classic WinHelp." <<Can you elaborate on what criteria you are using to qualify "easy to use"? I'd just like to know where you're coming from.>>

Purely personal prejudice, since I have no usability statistics whatsoever to back me up on this one. I simply find it more difficult to work with the most common style of HTML Help, with a scrolling alphabetical index on the left and content on the right. I find the indexes much less useful and more difficult to use too.

It's been a couple years since I've worked extensively on a PC, so I'm afraid I can't be much more specific--but I have a clear memory of opening my first HTML Help files on the PC back in (2003?) and being not just unimpressed, but actively turned off. Even allowing for the learning curve and for middle-aged reluctance to change, I still found the navigation and usability markedly inferior to the previous WinHelp files from the same software developer.

However, unless there's broad agreement from other techwhirlers, consider this specific objection withdrawn: it's anecdotal and highly subjective, and thus not easy for me to defend. I'd have to dust off the old PC, and do some spelunking to find HTML Help files so I could do a more extensive and objective comparison with WinHelp.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
www.geoff-hart.com
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References:
Do online helps have chapter numbers?: From: Reena Misra
Do online helps have chapter numbers?: From: Geoff Hart
What do you want from help? (was: Do online helps have chapter numbers): From: Geoff Hart
Re: What do you want from help? (was: Do online helps have chapter numbers): From: Bill Swallow

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