Sciology = Science + Technology

Commonsense in Technology

Eclipse Help vs Cheat Sheets ?

Posted by sureshkrishna on March 1, 2008

Did you ever got into such an argument from your boss or colleague ? During the documentation time, many categorize the tasks/topics into either of Eclipse Help Content or Cheat Sheets. Depending on the task, domain and business at hand, its very tricky to decide if a topic falls into the category of Cheat Sheet or Help. Oops… i am not sure, if cheat sheets are used by many organizations, but i did use them in couple of projects and customers loved them. Its been quite easy to decide what goes into Cheat Sheets, if we follow a task based approach.

Following are few hints and tips, that i use to decide when to use Help and when to use Cheat Sheets.

Cheat Sheets :

  • Let the user accomplish a TASK using a cheat sheet.
  • Cheat sheet assists the user in a step-by-step manner.
  • When there is some Dynamic Data to be filled-in, use cheat sheet.
  • Cheat sheet is more appropriate to accomplishing a task might take…
    • Invoking a Wizard
    • Filling the Data in Multiple Wizard Pages
    • Use a search criteria to get data from DataBase, do data/wizard validations
    • Invoking a View, etc…

Help Content :

  • Explain the system/modules with the help of Help
  • Describe the specific Views, Perspectives, etc… with in Help
  • Describe the content, allowed values of a Wizard or Action with the help of Help
  • DO NOT describe steps to accomplish a complex task in Help (there are high chances that users might ignore it). Instead, do it in Cheat Sheet.

When we follow the above hints, i guess there is no argument on what to use when. I hope many of you would have used help and cheat sheets in combination and i would love to hear your experiences.

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