Re: Why We Need Good Software Manuals

Subject: Re: Why We Need Good Software Manuals
From: "Cramer, Kim" <kcramer -at- NCSLINK -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 07:57:00 -0700

> > one problem we're seeing with new stuff, is "pointless help". got a
> > dialog box with a field that says "file name" and an OK function
> > button and you click the help key and get a nice dialog that says
> > things like "this is the file name field". no duh.

> This is my pet peeve and yet my engineers absolutely INSIST that I do
> this! I hate it! They want every field in every window and dialog box
> to have a separate topic. I've thrown fits but to no avail. How much
> can you say about a field titled "Last Name" or "City"? It's just
> plain ridiculous.

We do this as well for every field, but we also provide useful information
such as field length and whether the field is required or optional for data
entry. If a field is a display-only field, we provide a See Also link to
the screen where the user originally entered the information. Because our
product uses a third party report writer, we also identify the report writer
field name (and it's view) for all fields that can be used in reports.

I think consistency is the thing - users get comfortable with knowing they
can get help on every field. If it's only available on some fields, they
lose that comfort level.

Kim Cramer
kcramer -at- ncslink -dot- com
Information Developer
NCS Education

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