Author Topic: The Help system(s)  (Read 3447 times)

Offline MikeA

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The Help system(s)
« on: May 26, 2008, 06:07:59 PM »
Observations and suggestions about the on-line help (I work in a software company's documentation department and have often built on-line help...I have developed certain preferences about these matters. :-)

When Help > Photo Mechanic Help is selected, something odd happens: first, the file index.html opens in Notepad. Only afterward does index.html open in the web browser (I'm running Win XP SP2 and have Firefox set as my default browser). Notepad remains open with the HTML file, and must be closed manually.

The abbreviated help information accessible via Help > Photo Mechanic Help does not appear to be entirely up to date with the current version of the program.

I'm evaluating Photo Mechanic at the moment and I don't know if the complete help system (the large PDF file) is provided when the program is registered (IMO, it should be). Of course that file is available from the company's web site, but it doesn't seem to be mentioned in the Quick Start guide. Information about the larger documentation file should be added to the Quick Start guide -- the file should be more easily "discoverable"...

IMO the Help menu should have a dedicated item for the Quick Start guide, especially in the demo version. And if the larger PDF file -- the complete help system -- is in the installation directory for PM, it seems to me that Help > Photo Mechanic Help should open that file, not the abbreviated HTML-based information.

On downloading the full help system (Photo_Mechanic_4.5.3_Manual.pdf), I noticed that there is no "clickable" TOC -- there are no PDF bookmarks, and the titles in the TOC at the start of the document aren't links. If this is by design -- and not simply an issue with the version of Adobe Reader that I'm using (7.1.0) -- I urge you to add a real TOC to the help file. Right now, finding topics quickly requires either using the "go to page" or "find" dialogs, neither of which is an efficient way of navigating a help-file. If memory serves, it's pretty easy to have Acrobat create a real TOC.

Thanks b.t.w. for allowing the demo version to remain active for as long as it does. This makes it possible to do a really thorough evaluation...

Offline Kirk Baker

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Re: The Help system(s)
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2008, 06:47:39 PM »
Mike,

Observations and suggestions about the on-line help (I work in a software company's documentation department and have often built on-line help...I have developed certain preferences about these matters. :-)

When Help > Photo Mechanic Help is selected, something odd happens: first, the file index.html opens in Notepad. Only afterward does index.html open in the web browser (I'm running Win XP SP2 and have Firefox set as my default browser). Notepad remains open with the HTML file, and must be closed manually.

The abbreviated help information accessible via Help > Photo Mechanic Help does not appear to be entirely up to date with the current version of the program.

I'm evaluating Photo Mechanic at the moment and I don't know if the complete help system (the large PDF file) is provided when the program is registered (IMO, it should be). Of course that file is available from the company's web site, but it doesn't seem to be mentioned in the Quick Start guide. Information about the larger documentation file should be added to the Quick Start guide -- the file should be more easily "discoverable"...

IMO the Help menu should have a dedicated item for the Quick Start guide, especially in the demo version. And if the larger PDF file -- the complete help system -- is in the installation directory for PM, it seems to me that Help > Photo Mechanic Help should open that file, not the abbreviated HTML-based information.

On downloading the full help system (Photo_Mechanic_4.5.3_Manual.pdf), I noticed that there is no "clickable" TOC -- there are no PDF bookmarks, and the titles in the TOC at the start of the document aren't links. If this is by design -- and not simply an issue with the version of Adobe Reader that I'm using (7.1.0) -- I urge you to add a real TOC to the help file. Right now, finding topics quickly requires either using the "go to page" or "find" dialogs, neither of which is an efficient way of navigating a help-file. If memory serves, it's pretty easy to have Acrobat create a real TOC.

Thanks b.t.w. for allowing the demo version to remain active for as long as it does. This makes it possible to do a really thorough evaluation...


All valid points.
The manual is available separately because we want to keep the download size as small as possible.
The hyperlinks are indeed broken.  I'll try and fix them.

-Kirk


Offline MikeA

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Re: The Help system(s)
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2008, 11:33:56 PM »
All valid points.
The manual is available separately because we want to keep the download size as small as possible.
The hyperlinks are indeed broken.  I'll try and fix them.

Thanks. B.t.w., I should have mentioned in the midst of my complaints :-) that the on-line help is very complete and well written.

Offline Kirk Baker

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Re: The Help system(s)
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2008, 06:54:28 AM »
Mike,

When Help > Photo Mechanic Help is selected, something odd happens: first, the file index.html opens in Notepad. Only afterward does index.html open in the web browser (I'm running Win XP SP2 and have Firefox set as my default browser). Notepad remains open with the HTML file, and must be closed manually.

We just tell the OS to open the index.html file.  Do you have Notepad.exe set to open .htm and .html files?
What you're experiencing does not happen on my Windows systems.

-Kirk


Offline Kirk Baker

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Re: The Help system(s)
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2008, 06:58:06 AM »
Mike,

All valid points.
The manual is available separately because we want to keep the download size as small as possible.
The hyperlinks are indeed broken.  I'll try and fix them.

Thanks. B.t.w., I should have mentioned in the midst of my complaints :-) that the on-line help is very complete and well written.

If you download the manual again from:

http://camerabits.fileburst.com/Photo_Mechanic_4.5.3_Manual.pdf

You'll get a new version with the hyperlinks working properly.  I haven't checked each and every one of them, but a spot check indicates that they're working again.

-Kirk


Offline MikeA

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Re: The Help system(s)
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2008, 11:46:57 PM »
The links do work now. Thanks for the quick update.