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Re: An interesting blog by Matt Zimmerman touches on docs
On 07/09/2010 02:50 PM, Jason Cook wrote:
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.
Your point is significant.
Let's differentiate between application help and Ubuntu Help. That is,
many applications (gnome ones, for example) already deliver their help
(and translations of it) on disk through packages. I don't see why this
shouldn't continue (for some time anyway). Thus, your use case is
In the meanwhile, there could be a wonderful and fun Ubuntu help web
portal that starts to pick up the job of non-app-specific help.
On Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 12:01 PM, Kyle Nitzsche
<kyle.nitzsche@xxxxxxxxxxxxx <mailto:kyle.nitzsche@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>> wrote:
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
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
On Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 6:34 PM, Shaun McCance
<mailto:shaunm@xxxxxxxxx <mailto:shaunm@xxxxxxxxx>>> wrote:
On Wed, 2010-07-07 at 17:13 -0400, Kyle Nitzsche wrote:
> With which I agree in general.
> * on-disk docs might effectively be limited to only what is
> get started and get connected to the web (localized, of course).
> * run-time help links might instead display appropriate
content in the
> Naturally, there are disadvantages, such as:
> * no internet connection = no help (beyond the minimal
> * umm.. any other disadvantages?
A greater disconnect between applications and their
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
help into applications. (It was Phil's idea, although
not realize it.) Imagine help buttons and menus
populated with the most relevant content, searching for
directly in the help menu, and on-board help blurbs
directly from the help and link into it for more
These are the sorts of things that user assistance
are dreaming about, but most help tool vendors are
in the 90s. We have the opportunity to blaze new trails
free software. Stop playing catchup and make UA
It's possible to have this sort of deep integration
content, but it's harder. I have no doubt that help
more and more to the web, but then, applications will
and more to the web as well. If we jump there too early
thinking about how to really improve things, we'll lock
into an outdated and inadequate help model.
To be fair, I don' t think that the two approaches to help
be mutually exclusive. What Shaun is talking about is awesome
application-level help. There will still be a need for
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
could not include (as many?) screenshots in on-disk help as
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
other help available for download on their websites. Does
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
help, but they don't concern themselves with fitting all of
OS and applications onto a 700mb CDROM. For base installs they
have DVD's and having some of their content accessible via
I bring up those comparisons not necessarily to say, "Oh,
it that way, so that way is the best way," or to say, "Just
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
want to give room for Shaun's application-level help ideas,
better web-presence for Ubuntu help would also be a big
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