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Re: An interesting blog by Matt Zimmerman touches on docs


The reason it may be a problem is that often when I don't have an internet
connection, I need to know how to use an applications that have not yet
learned how to use or am experiencing problems with. Though most are
self-explanatory, some app are more complex and, when using this method, I
can't use them or solve the problem until I get and internet connection. As
I previously mention, if there was an easy way to download the documentation
for  offline use, then this method would work. Until there is a way
to access the internet from *everywhere* this, at least in my opinion, this
won't work.

On Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 12:01 PM, Kyle Nitzsche

> Hi Jason?
> On 07/09/2010 06:32 AM, Jason Cook wrote:
>> I think that a cloud based solution is a great idea. But for mobile users
>> this would a problem.
> Why do you think a web/cloud-based help system a problem for mobile users?
>  One possible solution would be to include *all* of the content that is
>> available online in a repository that *gets updated when the contents on the
>> web changes*. Then is is not just static and can be redesigned. If the
>> downloaded format was HTML, then this would not require another application.
>> I think that a cloud based solution would be great, but there needs to be a
>> easy way to download all of that content locally.
>> On Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 8:30 PM, Jim Campbell <jwcampbell@xxxxxxxxx<mailto:
>> jwcampbell@xxxxxxxxx>> wrote:
>>    Hi All,
>>    On Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 6:34 PM, Shaun McCance <shaunm@xxxxxxxxx
>>    <mailto:shaunm@xxxxxxxxx>> wrote:
>>        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/
>>        [snip]
>>        > 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.
>>        [snip]
>>        > 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.
>>        --
>>        Shaun
>>    To be fair, I don' t think that the two approaches to help have to
>>    be mutually exclusive.  What Shaun is talking about is awesome
>>    application-level help.  There will still be a need for people who
>>    want that help content in different formats, whether they be
>>    manuals or help that is searchable on the web.
>>    As for on-disk vs. cloud/web-based content, I think having more
>>    web-based content is necessary now.  We would still have the
>>    option of keeping on-disk help relatively light.  For example, we
>>    could not include (as many?) screenshots in on-disk help as would
>>    be available in other formats.
>>    Also, as far as I know, Ubuntu is one of the few distros that
>>    ships a good amount of on-disk help at all.  Fedora just ships
>>    their release notes in the main install, and OpenSUSE (I think)
>>    just features some sort of getting-started guide.  Both have their
>>    other help available for download on their websites.  Does anybody
>>    know how RHEL and SUSE have theirs set up?  Do they have much
>>    "distro-specific" help in the base install?
>>    As for Apple and Microsoft, they may have a good amount of on-disk
>>    help, but they don't concern themselves with fitting all of their
>>    OS and applications onto a 700mb CDROM.  For base installs they
>>    have DVD's and having some of their content accessible via the web.
>>    I bring up those comparisons not necessarily to say, "Oh, they do
>>    it that way, so that way is the best way," or to say, "Just do it
>>    however X group / company is doing it," but to set realistic
>>    expectations for us.  I want us to be mindful of bandwidth /
>>    offline-access issues like the ones that Phil W. brought up, and
>>    want to give room for Shaun's application-level help ideas, but a
>>    better web-presence for Ubuntu help would also be a big step forward.
>>    Jim
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Jason Cook

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