Software user guides have traditionally provided assistance when the user requested help. Context-sensitivity enabled help systems to predict the most appropriate topic to present. For Windows applications, the move from Microsoft WinHelp to the new Microsoft HTML Help format allows user instructions to be presented in the same window as the application. This offers technical authors some extraordinary opportunities to provide intelligent, predictive, interactive help without the user having to request it. In this paper, we will explore one of the first such interactive help systems (for the Archivist e-mail archiving software), and see where the technology is moving.
This paper presents three methods of user assistance: role models (simple demonstrations), guides (structured walk-throughs), and coaches (active assistants). After a brief introduction, potential uses, available development tools, and additional information sources are discussed for each method.
I like Flare for much of the same reasons as Alistair. I haven’t integrated jQuery scripts into Flare yet. But knowing that I can do it if I wanted to is encouraging.
In an undertaking such as the metamorphosis from printed instructions to on-line instructions, it is important to have a process in place. Relying on the process used by the User Interface Design Department at Thomson Consumer Electronics has helped my department remain focused and on schedule with the project. This paper briefly outlines the Consumer Information Design Department’s process for creating an interactive instruction manual prototype, and might serve as a guideline for others who may also be making the leap from paper to interactivity.