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Re: An interesting blog by Matt Zimmerman touches on docs


On Wed, 2010-07-07 at 17:13 -0400, Kyle Nitzsche wrote:
> http://mdzlog.alcor.net/2010/07/06/weve-packaged-all-of-the-free-software-what-now/


> With which I agree in general.
> * on-disk docs might effectively be limited to only what is necessary to 
> get started and get connected to the web (localized, of course).
> * run-time help links might instead display appropriate content in the 
> browser.


> Naturally, there are disadvantages, such as:
> * no internet connection = no help (beyond the minimal on-disk help)
> * umm.. any other disadvantages?

A greater disconnect between applications and their help. Our
traditional help consists of islands of documents that are
largely separate from the applications they document.

One of my current projects is a library for deeply integrating
help into applications. (It was Phil's idea, although he might
not realize it.) Imagine help buttons and menus automatically
populated with the most relevant content, searching for help
directly in the help menu, and on-board help blurbs that come
directly from the help and link into it for more information.

These are the sorts of things that user assistance professionals
are dreaming about, but most help tool vendors are still stuck
in the 90s. We have the opportunity to blaze new trails with
free software. Stop playing catchup and make UA professionals'
mouths water.

It's possible to have this sort of deep integration with cloud
content, but it's harder. I have no doubt that help will move
more and more to the web, but then, applications will move more
and more to the web as well. If we jump there too early without
thinking about how to really improve things, we'll lock ourselves
into an outdated and inadequate help model.


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