Re: Online Documentation vs. Help

Subject: Re: Online Documentation vs. Help
From: Damien Braniff <Damien_Braniff -at- PAC -dot- CO -dot- UK>
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 08:54:49 +0000

To me the main difference is in the use (and I agree with Ron's comments
that both need careful thought when designing).

Online help is designed to provide SPECIFIC help be it on a field,
function, screen or whatever. You should be able to access it directly
from the relevant screen etc or else search for (via contents, index,
whatever) the help file to find out what you want. In many ways I see it
as analagous to a hard copy User manual with the majority of the
information being of the form "how to" with additional background
information as required.

Online docs I see (roughly!) as Reference Manuals. They probably contain
the relevant user info but provide a much more "rounded" picture of the
application etc. General overview, ideas behind it etc. All this would be
"layered" to allow the user to get the depth of information required. A
novice could (or should be able to) use the online docs to get a feel for
the product, what it does and how to use it.

My 2p worth (we don't have cents over here :-)!!

Damien Braniff
Technical Author
PAC International

http://www.documentation.com/, or http://www.dejanews.com/



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