Re. Help screen sizes

Subject: Re. Help screen sizes
From: Geoff Hart <geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Thu, 23 Nov 1995 09:29:23 LCL

Sarah Lee wrote to ask for recommendations about help
screen sizes, noting that her current software uses
one-size-fits-all full-screen pages.

Sarah, rule number one of online help is that your help
message shouldn't cover the screen that it applies to. If
you use a full screen and the software doesn't permit
switching back and forth between the application and the
help, readers must jot down notes on a separate piece of
paper, return to the application, and try out the solution
(hoping all the while that they wrote it down correctly).

If your software runs anywhere except on mainframe
computers, it's generally simple to present a resizable
window onscreen that contains the help; with Windows and
Mac OS 7.5, its almost trivial. Even with mainframes, ti
shouldn't be impossible to get your developers to produce
resizable help windows... ask them! Letting users customize
the screens to meet their specific needs is generally the
best answer.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

Disclaimer: If I didn't commit it in print in one of our
reports, it don't represent FERIC's opinion.

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