RE: symbolize roles

Subject: RE: symbolize roles
From: mlist -at- safenet-inc -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 09:02:44 -0400

> beverly_robinson -at- datacard -dot- com shared:

> I dislike being forced to learn yet another set of
> icons/symbols (and their
> meanings) for each program I use. I'm sure I'm not alone.
> I understand and agree with Kevin's proposal to use the same
> help system
> for all users. In fact, I use a similar system in the help
> for one of the
> products I support. But rather than cryptic symbols, I would
> prefer to see
> plain English (or French, Chinese, etc.) words describing role
> applicability. Or, as a compromise, include a label with the symbols.

The benefit of a symbol is that it doesn't need translation.

I agree about the "yet another set...".
I think, by now, I have my answer as to whether there's
a generally accepted representation for levels of administrative

I would have thought that there should be, by now, because so
many different kinds of systems (security, communications,
databases, industrial plants, etc.) have similar role divisions:

- there's somebody (or some automatic thing) that does nothing
but monitor status and do some hand-waving and shouting if something
significant happens

- there's somebody who performs operational tasks, like collecting
and reporting stats, deciding what "something significant" is,
responding to alarms, and performing everday maintenance activities

- there's somebody who gets to control access and set overall
parameters, create accounts, control scope of other users,
reset passwords, and do other trusted-guru-like things.

I was hoping to hear from somebody who documents for (or works in)
those other industries, and not have to re-invent the wheel.
Apparently, the wheel has not actually been invented yet, even
though it's 2005 ?

One of the other techwriters in our far-flung firm suggested a
handful of icons that she'd dredged up, with monitor being...
a monitor screen, operator being a head-and-shoulders stylized
representation of "guy with hardhat", and admin being a head-
and-shoulders stylized representation of "guy with lab-coat,
tie and glasses". Apparently, she didn't view them as being
politically incorrect (where's "woman-with..."). :-)

But, it turns out that those icons were from a collection
that's "free for non-commercial use" only.

Anyway, it's not a big deal. Regardless of what they see in the
Help, users will see at the command-line that they've got a
greater or lesser (sub)set of the described command set. I was
merely looking for a nifty visual way to help the user cut
through the clutter.


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