Re: online help usability

Subject: Re: online help usability
From: Vicki Rosenzweig <murphy!acmcr!vr -at- UUNET -dot- UU -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 11 Apr 1994 14:27:54 EDT

I think the installed base problem, if there is one, may be
OS/2 rather than Windows. In addition to the Sun (Unix)
workstation I'm writing this on, I have an IBM PS/2 on my
desk. Every OS/2 window has the option "help." Unfortunately,
in many cases no help has been written for the application.
In the SunOS version of Unix, if you hit the help key and there
is no help, you get a little message that tells you that no
helpfile exists for this application. It can be frustrating,
but at least it's quick. In OS/2, you're dropped into a nice-looking
multi-level help menu, which is _entirely_ about how to use
OS/2 help. You still don't get the answer you're looking for,
and it can take ten minutes to figure this out. Because the
real joker is that you get all that stuff, _plus_ any actual
application-specific information, if the information you want
does exist, so there's no quick way to determine that what you
want hasn't been written. My hunch is that anyone who has spent
much time dealing with an OS/2 system is going to hesitate to
press the "help" key, or select the help menu, again.

Vicki Rosenzweig
vr%acmcr -dot- uucp -at- murphy -dot- com
New York, NY

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