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Help system (Read 6020 times)

Started by Nightwish, June 19, 2005, 13:38:27

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#1
Help system |
June 19, 2005, 13:38:27
In order to improve general usability, I plan to implement a help system into tabsrmm, for all the option pages and dialog boxes, and, as the second step, a general documentation (describing the message dialog for example, and probably more).

This will very much look like the already existing help page for the template editor with the exception that the help text won't be inside tabSRMMs source code (which makes it hard to translate).

At the moment, I'am not sure whether to use .rich text or .html - HTML is also possible by embedding an IE component into the help window and has the advantage of better formatting and hyperlinking. Also, HTML is more flexible as it can be translated into a .CHM help file.

For translators, it doesn't make much difference whether to edit a rich text or HTML document.
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#2
Re: Help system |
June 20, 2005, 06:34:52
Well... as long as IEview became some sort of a widespread chatlog renderer, there won't be any harm in embedding another IE control in Miranda.... I suppose, Mozilla fans will bear this fact cause HTML documentation is easy to read.
#3
Re: Help system |
June 20, 2005, 16:29:50
I think that html is a better option, and chm help can be opened without any special software, and is easier to browse.
#4
Re: Help system |
June 20, 2005, 18:22:41
I think that html is a better option, and chm help can be opened without any special software, and is easier to browse.

You need special software to open chm files ... you need internet explorer. You might say that everyone has internet explorer installed but that's not true.
Back when i was using windows 98 (micro thanks to 98lite) not having internet explorer installed was a great speed and stability improvement + less worries because of ie's exploits. Yeah, some programs complain but you can live without them ;D

Nightwish said:
In order to improve general usability, I plan to implement a help system into tabsrmm, for all the option pages and dialog boxes, and, as the second step, a general documentation (describing the message dialog for example, and probably more).
Will you consider making it into another plugin or at least offer services for other plugins to use it ? I think it would be better if some kind of general help system was developed, like the help plugin but better.
#5
Re: Help system |
June 20, 2005, 18:29:53
Will you consider making it into another plugin or at least offer services for other plugins to use it ? I think it would be better if some kind of general help system was developed, like the help plugin but better.

A generic help system is more or less something for the core. It's hardly doable without changing Mirandas core options system (the dialog which manages all the pages added by plugins). The option pages are the locations where help files are missing mostly.

Currently, I'am thinking about a tooltip system aswell. This could be done w/o support in the core, but would then, of course, only work for tabSRMM. The idea may inspire other devs though.
__
Every program has at least one bug and can be shortened by at least one instruction -- from which, by induction, one can deduce that every program can be reduced to a single instruction that doesn't work.
My SMF-based forum fork
#6
Re: Help system |
June 20, 2005, 18:38:36
I was thinking of a plugin that has a window like your template help window. And then provide some kind of service to start that window with a given title and a .rtf (or html) file as content. This way you don't need modifications in the core but it's a weak workaround, every plugin maker (or some helpful user) needs to make a rtf (or html) file for each plugin. The plugin maker must at least make some kind of method to show the help :(
#7
Re: Help system |
June 20, 2005, 21:01:12
You need special software to open chm files ... you need internet explorer. You might say that everyone has internet explorer installed but that's not true.
For how many people it's not true...? 1-2% of all Windows users...
#8
Re: Help system |
June 20, 2005, 21:41:52
For how many people it's not true...? 1-2% of all Windows users...

Yes ... i know :). I was just saying that you need special software to view chm files ... even if the software is bundled with windows.
In windows XP it's extreemly hard to get rid of Internet Explorer, if not impossible.

I don't have anything against the help file being in html, don't get me wrong. I'm just not sure yet if i'd like another ie embedded in miranda.
How about running the default web browser with the html help file instead of showing it in a window ? ... just a thought.
#9
Re: Help system |
June 22, 2005, 14:06:30
Alex, you might wanna read this thread before starting the help system and maybe talk to Robert about it. ;)

I came up with the idea a while ago and it was exactly about a tooltip help system, giving FreeRAM XP Pro as an example. Short after that I deleted all of my posts, including those in that thread, but some quotes still exist.

I disagreed with Robert about the way tooltips were to be shown, as I wanted normal tooltips (appearing on mouse hovering a control), while he wanted them to be on demand, using the What's this? function (that'd require 2 clicks per tooltip).

Anyway, as the core team is quite thin these days, you might wanna take over some tasks, one of them being this tooltip help system.

As for the real help for tabSRMM, I guess opening a help page in the default browser would indeed be the best idea, as it could contain thumbnails or screenshots for different settings combinations, themes, etc. Damn, sounds like tabSRMM were a whole separate application! :P
#10
Re: Help system |
June 22, 2005, 15:22:06
I came up with the idea a while ago and it was exactly about a tooltip help system, giving FreeRAM XP Pro as an example. Short after that I deleted all of my posts, including those in that thread, but some quotes still exist.

I disagreed with Robert about the way tooltips were to be shown, as I wanted normal tooltips (appearing on mouse hovering a control), while he wanted them to be on demand, using the What's this? function (that'd require 2 clicks per tooltip).

But he was right. This is the UI standard under Windows for showing context sensitive help. The two clicks aren't an issue at all and won't make anything slower, because when you show the tooltips w/o having to click, then a delay is mandatory, otherwise, "power users" (who don't need the help) will be annoyed constantly by these tooltips.
__
Every program has at least one bug and can be shortened by at least one instruction -- from which, by induction, one can deduce that every program can be reduced to a single instruction that doesn't work.
My SMF-based forum fork
#11
Re: Help system |
June 22, 2005, 16:14:38
1. Options are not there to play with, but to set them once and for all, so they shouldn't annoy you every 5 minutes or so
2. While trying to achieve the best configuration for your needs, tooltips might give you a good helping hand; once you finished with the settings, you don't have to care about them anymore
3. There are Expert options, one of which could be [ ] Show help tooltips. This way, power users wouldn't have to worry anymore
4. I wouldn't want to break my mouse just for reading the help. As you said, look at the bigger picture: if/when this system will be implemented for all plugins, there would be a hell lot of tooltips to be shown and clicking twice for each and every one of them might annoy users more than having those tooltips shown instantly on hovering the controls.
5. I just came up with an idea: what if there were 2 help plugins, one for every system, but both using the same tooltips database? Users could then be able to install the system that best fits their habits
#12
Re: Help system |
June 22, 2005, 16:31:06
I really don't want to be drawn into this argument.

They could always show the help button (it's near the minimize one) and then you wouldn't have to break your mouse.
If you'll only look at the options once (1) then your mouse will be fine, it can withstand a few clicks.

I think that"what's this" method is better but that's just my oppinion. Anyway, if they show the help button then there won't be a need to click twice to get help.
You're suggesting a lot of new stuff (3 and 5) just because you're not comfortable with another way of doing this thing. I don't think the developers will want to create 2 plugins for a program that works as it should, you'll have to make a compromise somewhere.
#13
Re: Help system |
June 22, 2005, 17:21:13
I just wanted to say that I'm 100% with Drugwash... so everyting he says in the matter of tooltip help should count as 2... :D
#14
Re: Help system |
June 22, 2005, 18:37:25
and i just wanted to say the whole argument seems silly to me just as it seemed in the Miranda forums, an argument about 2 clicks... the what's this is the standard way of doing things and it's less disturbing, not that it matters one way or the other we are only talking here about 2 clicks jeez
breaking your mouse... come on, stop using a 15 years old mouse and you won't need to be afraid of breaking it
#15
Re: Help system |
June 22, 2005, 21:45:08
OK, let's clear up some things here: as the Help subject has been brought into attention by Nightwish, I felt the need to remind (if needed) that all the plugins, not only tabSRMM, need such Help system.

So when I finally came up with the idea of someone creating 2 versions of a Help plugin, using the same strings (or whatever system would use), I thought about all users, trying to give everybody the ability to choose.

As we can see here, there's people who prefer instant tooltips, and people who prefer What's this. So will it be for all users out there, so before creating a single help system that would annoy the users that dislike it and make them start complaining, I thought: let's make it dual from the beginning.

It's not a matter of what I like or not, it's more like trying to anticipate people's wishes and reactions and giving them what they need before them starting to ask or complain.

OK, so now while reviewing all replies, I came to the conclusion that seems to be the best, of course in my opinion- one single Help plugin, with these options:

Tooltips mode:
[X] on hover, with [___|v] ms delay
[ ] using What's this system
[ ] disabled (power user mode)


Oh, and my 15 year old mouse will last 15 more even if I'll have to use the 2 clicks, while you'll buy a new one every 2-3 months... ;)
Last Edit: June 22, 2005, 21:51:26 by Drugwash
#16
Re: Help system |
June 23, 2005, 11:02:14
i just think you tend to throw a lot of ideas, enough to scare every future developer :P

your current suggestion does seem very good, of course i don't know how easy it is to disable those tooltips

i really should find the time to learn the c languages, i had my fun with pascal and classic vb and now it's time to move on...

oh i have no problem with my mouse breaking, it happened 2 years ago (it was a few years old then already) and Microsoft just replaced it with a newer model optical mouse no questioned asked :)
#17
Re: Help system |
June 24, 2005, 02:43:57
If a project lacks ideas, it's already dead. ;)

They may be good or bad, the most important thing is that something would be achieved from each and every one of them,
be it how to or how NOT to.
I'm trying to think logically and ergonomically (as I'm a lazy assĀ  :P ), but most of all I'm thinking as a simple user. Most of the times I have no or poor idea about how things should go regarding implementing or changing something; I just know how more or less users would want something to show/work.
The developer will then say YES, NO, or MAYBE. But if he won't give strong reasons for refusing, other users might think "hey, maybe if there's more of us asking for this, he'll do it" and they might start asking for that feature or whatever, one by one, cluttering the forum with (identical or similar) feature requests.

As for coding, all I ever knew was BASIC and machine-code (ASM nowadays) back in Z80 times (15 years ago, for me). Since then, I never was able to learn another language, as none of the new (PC) ones were even close to the user-friendliness of BASIC, and access to assembler codes and documentation wasn't that easy, until the Internet started to spread in our country.
Besides, in less than a month I'll be 39; kinda old for starting to experiment with coding. ;)

Oh, and nobody's gonna replace my mouse if it breaks, as I bought it from the flea-market about 4-5 years ago.
It's still a Logitech, though; works as smoothly as an optical one and I clean it no sooner than every 6 months or so...
That's why I love it... :)
#18
Re: Help system |
June 29, 2005, 14:51:11
Any news about the help system?
#19
Re: Help system |
June 29, 2005, 15:14:45
Any news about the help system?

Not yet. Being a "big" task, it will take some time. First, I want to finish tabSRMM for it's 1.0 release. I'am not sure, if the help will be completed before 1.0. Doing so, would delay the release for another few weeks.
__
Every program has at least one bug and can be shortened by at least one instruction -- from which, by induction, one can deduce that every program can be reduced to a single instruction that doesn't work.
My SMF-based forum fork