Re: Mobile - tooltips and other embedded help

Subject: Re: Mobile - tooltips and other embedded help
From: Lawrence Orin <startingfresh1 -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com, charlotteclaussen -at- gmail -dot- com
Date: Sat, 5 Dec 2015 09:29:39 +0200


There are two parts to your question: porting context sensitive help (CSH)
to a mobile, and porting the content itself so it renders nicely on a
mobile device.

Regarding the CSH first: the obvious solution would be for the link in the
product to point to an external web page which has a responsive skin, so
its formatting automatically adjusts to the size of the screen.

The problem with CSH is that it is usually quite brittle, with so much time
is spent testing the links between the system and your content. But in my
company, we use a vendor with a unique approach to CSH, using fallbacks.
The product provides many keys (not just one) which are automatically
generated by the product, based on the product name, version, the area of
the product where the user clicked on help, the specific functionality you
were looking at, and the specfic section. If the system finds a match on
all keys, it shows that page. But if it finds a match on only some of the
keys, it will display the closest match. It even knows to check the
documentation of the previous version for a possible match. If it finds
more than one match, it displays the list and asks the user to choose. This
robust CSH is a godsend, and makes the whole system much more reliable.

The other issue you raised is about having a responsive skin. Using XML
helps (I am not familiar with Flare in particular), and using DITA is of
course the best choice for XML docs, because it is the international
standard. In those cases, many people use one skin which is customized to
be responsive to the screen size.

For my company, the robust CSH, the fully customized responsive skin,
search across all publications, and some other noteworthy innovations were
all from the same vendor: Suite Solutions. We use their SuiteShare product
as our online help portal. I suggest you check it out. It is a very
powerful platform for doc solutions.

Good luck,


On Thu, Dec 3, 2015 at 3:00 AM, Charlotte Branth Claussen
<charlotteclaussen -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
> Hi All,
> We are upgrading our help from the Word/PDF setup and looking into
> possibilities. We're not ready for a full on XML system, but we use MadCap
> Flare and can thus be fairly flexible. We have good relations with
> developers and the UX team which means that we have the opportunity to
> create good embedded help that integrates will with an online help (if we
> get in there early enough!).
> Our application is used on mobiles, tablets and desktops. It is intended
> that users will change devices on the fly while using our application, so
> the aim is to make the user experience as similar as possible across
> devices. That does of course mean that we need to optimize for mobile,
> while not making the desktop experience empty.
> What are the challenges?
> How do you avoid the "mobile first" approach affecting the desktop
> negatively?
> How do you solve the issues with touch interfaces and small screens? (when
> you can't do right-click, hover, etc. - and you don't have a lot screen
> estate for buttons or extra text)
> I have done some searching and seem to mostly find examples of what is
> working.
> Do you know good examples of embedded help for mobile devices?
> Thanks,
> Charlotte
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