Re: Summary: Estimating context-sensitive help

Subject: Re: Summary: Estimating context-sensitive help
From: Katharine Woods <kathw -at- FTP -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 1997 16:51:15 +0000

Jane Bergen wrote:

> I have not read the book you cited, but I am curious as to why it would
> take less time to write a context-sensitive topic than it takes to write
> another topic? Most online developers recommend that online help is
> task-based ("How to ..." for a single task).
> [snip]
> Maybe you are talking about the "What's this?" topics, which are really
> just definitions most of the time.

In this case I am using context-sensitive to mean What's This? help.
Sorry, if I didn't make that clear. However, the other help topics
aren't just "How to ..." for a single task because the decision has
been made to deliver all the documentation for this product via
Windows help. Therefore, other topics could contain any of the types
of information (concepts, procedures, background, glossary, reference
troubleshooting, anything else) which you would find in a set of
printed manuals.

All this information needs links to to other relevant information so
users can find what they need. This is why I think the other help
topics require more work. There is more information in them, using a
more complicated structure with all the appropriate jumps and related
topics to set up and test.

Hope this makes it clearer as to what we are trying to do and why I
used separate estimates for different types of topics. If anyone's
got any words of wisdom with regards to delivering an entire document
set via online help, it would be good to hear them.

Katharine Woods
kathw -at- sol -dot- ftp -dot- com
Senior Technical Writer
FTP Software Limited

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