Re: Brainstorming: Help vs Tutorial (why, concept, etc)

Subject: Re: Brainstorming: Help vs Tutorial (why, concept, etc)
From: Deborah Hemstreet <dvora -at- tech-challenged -dot- com>
To: Robert Lauriston <robert -at- lauriston -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 23 Jul 2009 12:22:10 -0400

Hi Robert, and Geoff,

Thanks for your in-depth replies. The seem to support my thinking, but
helped me picture better what I want to do and where I want to go.

Robert, what is your take on how users handle the PDF? My client says
they are not convinced the user will read a 30 page PDF with all of the
conceptual information in it. They feel it will probably be more
accessible in the help.

I have mixed feelings. I believe we need both (and am planning on this).

Well, back to work!

Deborah

P.S. and thank GOD I have work!

Robert Lauriston wrote:
> In one doc I'm particularly happy with, I have an introductory
> reference topic that outlines the typical workflow. There are 30 steps
> in the workflow, and each has cross-reference hyperlinks to detailed
> how-to topics for specific tasks. For example, the first step is
> "Create a new project file," which has a link to an overview topic
> "Creating Project Files." This topic includes whatever general
> information the user might need to know about creating project files,
> followed by links to how-to topics for all the various ways the user
> do that (create a blank project, create a project from a template,
> retrieve a project from the server).
>
> When helpful, how-to topics start with prerequisites, as Geoff
> describes. They may contain links to the workflow outline or other
> how-to topics to help the user figure out what to do next. The how-to
> topics are grouped and sequenced along the same lines as the workflow.
>
> Within the workflow, there are many conditional branches and iterative
> loops. For example, step 17 is a unit test for one element of a task,
> and a project may contain many tasks. If the output from the test is
> wrong, the next step is to debug; if the output is correct, the next
> step is to add another element to the task (go back to step 11), or,
> if all elements have been added, to test the complete task with live
> data (go on to step 18).
>
> How-to vs. tutorial: A how-to topic covers a relatively simple
> low-level user task, such as creating, saving, or deleting a file
> ("using a dialog box" is NOT a task), and is intended to assist people
> using the product to do real work. A tutorial covers a relatively
> complex high-level task with many steps, typically from the creation
> of a file or opening a sample file through to final output or
> completion, and is intended for new users and people evaluating the
> product (so tutorials have more of a marketing function than how-to
> topics). Tutorials should reflect best practices and be supplemented
> by one or more sample files.
>
> I always deliver the online help as a PDF user guide as well.
>
> On Thu, Jul 23, 2009 at 6:07 AM, Deborah
> Hemstreet<dvora -at- tech-challenged -dot- com> wrote:
>
>> Hi All,
>>
>> I'm trying to think out of the box, and but my box has chains...
>>
>> When working on online Help, how would YOU distinguish between the pure
>> HOW TO (delete, add, use a dialog box, etc.)
>> vs
>>
>> Why would I ever want to do this to begin with. Conceptual information
>> that, without knowing this up front, you'll never know you NEED to add,
>> delete, etc.) ...
>>
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>
> Free Software Documentation Project Web Cast: Covers developing Table of
> Contents, Context IDs, and Index, as well as Doc-To-Help
> 2009 tips, tricks, and best practices.
> http://www.doctohelp.com/SuperPages/Webcasts/
>
> Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual
> authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write
> once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control! http://www.helpandmanual.com/
>
> ---
> You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as dvora -at- tech-challenged -dot- com -dot-
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>
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Free Software Documentation Project Web Cast: Covers developing Table of
Contents, Context IDs, and Index, as well as Doc-To-Help
2009 tips, tricks, and best practices.
http://www.doctohelp.com/SuperPages/Webcasts/

Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual
authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write
once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control! http://www.helpandmanual.com/

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Brainstorming: Help vs Tutorial (why, concept, etc): From: Deborah Hemstreet
Re: Brainstorming: Help vs Tutorial (why, concept, etc): From: Robert Lauriston

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