documenting a programmable user interface

Subject: documenting a programmable user interface
From: Karen Otto <KAREN_OTTO -at- HP-SPOKANE-OM2 -dot- OM -dot- HP -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 3 Jun 1996 11:16:59 -0600

Item Subject: cc:Mail Text
We have a product which has both a manual and programmable user
interface.
Up to now, we have put great detail into the manual user interface,
and provided only syntax reference railroad diagrams for the
programming commands.

We recognize the needs of our customers, and are busy developing new
ways of linking the programming commands to the screens. Our customers
need to link fields to commands, and to understand what the commands
do.

I though for a while our best way would be to just do it as a command
dictionary. That is, have one entry per command, with things like:
Command name
Command description
Syntax
Program Sample
Notes

Because the commands map so closely to the fields on the screen, I
think we can do better than this.
Some ideas we are trying:
- include syntax examples with field descriptions
- point to the command reference from the field descriptions

Some questions:
1) do we need to eliminate the syntax diagrams all crowded onto a few
pages in favor of a many paged, descriptive command reference?
2) Is a command list (compact listing of commands), plus a command
dictionary (see above) the most common way to go?
3) Does anyone have a silver bullet solution?


thanks,
Karen o.
karen_otto -at- hp-spokane-om2 -dot- om -dot- hp -dot- com

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