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Subject:Re: Cross-Platform Help From:Michelle Nichols <michelle -at- CARVM3 -dot- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM> Date:Tue, 12 Dec 1995 15:03:15 GMT
Gary brings up many good points about HTML and help systems. One of
the things that I liked so much about HTML and the browsers was I could
forget about the display of the information (to a degree) and worry about
the content of what I was trying to communicate. With the online environment,
it is so easy to get caught up in the display of the information that you forget
to write useful information. Your help system may be very usable, but contain
no useful information.
I am currently working on my thesis for my Masters degree. It is based
on a usability study that compared online help display tools, their functions
characteristics. Without going into long and boring details, the net result of
study showed that when it comes to getting information from an online help
system, they want what they are familiar with. Whatever is the "native"
delivery tool for their environment is what the users EXPECT and WANT their
information to be delivered in.
This flies in the face of much of the cross-platform work that we do. As
we are looking for the quick and easy fix to a very difficult and complex
problem. HTML is definately that quick fix and easy solution. The browsers
certainly present new challenges, and they may very well take over the world
of online information. However, until that time, and until your customers/users
say, "Give me my information so I can view it in my favorite HTML browser,"
we must work to deliver information in the native viewers.
What this leads to is trying to find the most portable source you can and work
on finding conversion tools that will get you to the other environments.
Michelle Corbin Nichols
......All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.