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Subject: RE: [dita-adoption-help] definition of Help

Hi Bruce


Here are some thoughts.


>> Modular--relatively short topics<<

Modular might not be the right term to use, because “modular Help” is used commonly to describe multiple Help systems that are merged at runtime to be delivered as a virtual single Help system.


>> May help with a user domain separate from its software vehicle.<<

Do you mean that Online Help doesn’t have to be associated with a piece of software? Or do you mean that some content in a software’s Help might describe indirectly-associated concepts, business rules and the like?


I think we also need to define “online”.




Tony Self


From: Bruce Nevin (bnevin) [mailto:bnevin@cisco.com]
Sent: Friday, 21 January 2011 8:43 AM
To: dita-adoption-help@lists.oasis-open.org
Subject: [dita-adoption-help] definition of Help


I see http://wiki.oasis-open.org/dita-adoption/DITA_Help_Technologies_Guide_Allocation that I am on the hook for a definition of Help. Here's a quick draft for comment.



What is Online Help?

  • User assistance documentation.
  • Modular--relatively short topics, in some forms (e.g. rollover) smaller than a topic.
  • Delivered online by software, either locally or on the web.
  • Usually integrated with the UI of the software that it documents.
    • May help with a user domain separate from its software vehicle.
    • Is a kiosk or a guide to an exhibit online Help?
  • May be context sensitive (linked to user action or location or the state of the application).

These characteristics usually compel the Help developer to address the problem of relevance that is central to all documentation: access to the relevant topic from the context of need.


All user assistance documentation is part of the user interface; a Help system only more obviously so.


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