Re: Context Sensitive Help

Subject: Re: Context Sensitive Help
From: Ginna Watts <gwatts -at- PIM -dot- BC -dot- CA>
Date: Thu, 8 May 1997 10:05:23 -0700

At 11:11 AM 5/8/97 EDT, Becca Price wrote:

>As users, what do you like to see when you ask for context-sensitive help?
>do you want field-level information, as in Win95-style What's This? help?
>or do you want to see what someone else thinks might be the most appropriate
>topic? or possibly a list of options that could include field definitions
>and information about common procedures? Should cs-help be at the field
>level or at the screen level?

It certainly depends on the application. I once documented a database
system which included such fields as 'name', 'address' etc. We felt that
field-level info would be silly. Now I document mapping software - often
the fields need more explanation. 'Hanging End-points' (for example) needs
some information on what these are (in cartographic terms), and why you
might (or might not) want to check for them.

>If field level help is the most appropriate, should the cs-help command (F1,
>shift-F1, whatever) be the *only* way to get at this information, or should
>there be links to that topic in the general help file, as well?

We use 'F1', and this opens the full help file, not the little floating
'what's this?' box. From there they can get anywhere. I hate not being
able to read about anything else. In ours, even once they know what
hanging end-points are, they need to know what kind of impact ignoring them
has on their data, and how they might fix them should the program find any.
To find out all that, they need to follow links.

Hope this helps, Ginna

Ginna Watts - Technical Writer
Pacific International Mapping Corp.
gwatts -at- pim -dot- bc -dot- ca

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