Chapter 6. Is the help system effective?

Nikolay (unDEFER) Krivchenkov


Unfortunately it is necessary to admit that the help system in modern applications with graphical interface is extremely not effective.

Let's examine an example of search of way to insert content in the Word application from Microsoft Office 2007. The description of this process in help system looks as follows:

  1. Click where you want to insert the table of contents, usually at the beginning of a document.
  2. On the References tab, in the Table of Contents group, click Table of Contents, and then click the table of contents style that you want.

Note. If you want to specify more options — for example, how many heading levels to show — click Insert Table of Contents to open the Table of Contents dialog box. To find out more about the different options, see Format the table of contents.

Actually similar instructions very much remind recipe, algorithm - i.e. accurate sequence of actions, which needs to be executed to reach the wished.

However does user really need such instructions? After all, execution of accurate instructions is rather prerogative of the computer, instead of the human.

The answer: "No, does not (need)". Instead it's better to let the computer execute this instruction as soon as the user enters "insert content". Thus we come to necessity of command line interface development with natural language. Such system will be much more convenient than modern help system.

Look self. Let us suppose the user does not remember precisely how to do something with graphical interface. Then he/she:

  1. Opens help system;
  2. Enters search string;
  3. Chooses the necessary theme;
  4. Reads (it gets most of all time);
  5. Does instructions.

If the command line interface with a natural language works this algorithm at least will exclude 4 and 5 items. So the user save great lot of time, but true, does not learn how to do the same in the graphical interface. And here for this purpose there should be an option "show as"/"learn", with which the computer in an automatic mode will show where and how to click, instead of will tell. All know: "Better to see once than hear a hundred times" or especially to "read". Logo