Re: Screen shots in .hlp files [long]

Subject: Re: Screen shots in .hlp files [long]
From: Mitchell Gibbs <gibbs -at- gnv -dot- fdt -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 02 Dec 1999 17:11:45 -0500

I use screenshots sparingly, for many of the reasons that have already been
brought up in this thread. But I can make a good case for the occasions
that I do use them. If you're only documenting dialogs, a screenshot is
redundant, but if your online help includes process overviews, especially
for new users, a screenshot can work wonders.

In an app I'm currently documenting, I've just added several different
"menu" help topics that appear when the user presses F1 within specific
environments (depends on the document type that's open). These are intended
for the neophyte and offer several "What would you like to do" topics. In
some of these topics, I've included a screenshot in which the most basic
controls are numbered. The purpose is to alleviate dialog-box anxiety, and
show the user that only a few of the controls require their attention for
the particular process. While the interface is far from frozen, I have
waited for the program to mature a good bit before adding those kinds of

One way to use screenshots and avoid trouble with frequent changes is to
use partial screenshots -- shots that show only a single control, or a few
related controls. I've found this particularly helpful when documenting the
options in drop-down lists, and when showing how changes to one control
affect other controls. If the controls in the dialog are altered, at least
you've improved the odds that you won't have to update the screenshot.
Plus, partial screenshots take up less space, on the screen and disk.


At 03:05 PM 12/2/99 -0600, Paul Hanson wrote:
>First of all, I *like* screen shots in help files. I have designed two
>hlp files that are based on .shg graphics. I am not *opposed* to them
>at all.
>For those that do use them in your .hlp files, how do you manage changes
>to the design? Is your code frozen? How do you reconcile changes in the
>GUI of the software that don't get incorporated into the doc.

Mitchell Gibbs
Technical Writer
Advantage Software, Inc.

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