Re: WinHelp 95 help approach

Subject: Re: WinHelp 95 help approach
From: Shauna Jeanne Jones <shauna -at- ALOHA -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 1996 00:19:47 -1000

Well, we've hit a few minimalist-style online helps ... and usually found
that they were also extremely shallow, e.g., they focussed only on the
publisher's narrow idea of what features/tasks most people would use with
their prgs. In about half the cases, we had to go to the printed
documentation, or third-party references, to find the answers we needed.
(Unfortunately, MS seems to have carried the minimalist approach into its
documentation, too, but Micrografx seems to be the worst offender.)

So we'd suggest restricting the minimalist help to prograns that are very
rigid in their use. If you can only do X-many things with the prg, the
minimalist approach works fine. Something that's more fully featured, more
flexible, or deals with a complex subject that is not intuitively "mapped"
to the prg's features, might benefit from more comprehensive online help.

Besides, if you were using the program, would you want to have to have
*both* the online help and the manual open in order to learn something you
need to know?

At 11:15 AM 1/21/96 EST, Tim Altom wrote:
>I just got my new Pentium with 95 on it and I've been playing with the new
>help files that come with the system. They're fundamentally different in
>approach, of course, from the 3.X files that preceded them. One of the
>bigger differences is the minimalist approach.

>The minimalist approach reduces or eliminates wordy sections of help files,
>assuming that the user has popped up help for stepwise coaching, not for
>long-winded explanations. There are few conceptual explanations in 95. There
>are lots of steps. This is a major break with Microsoft's philosophy in the
>past, which balanced steps and explanation. Apparently the user should now
>open the manual if he wants a longer discussion.

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