License Prices, Real, and docs

Terry Judd tsj at unimelb.edu.au
Sat Jun 8 23:02:01 CDT 2002


>At 10:15 PM -0700 6/6/2002, Troy Rollins wrote:
>>1) we need a scripting cookbook. Preferably printed, and we have no
>>problem with the concept of paying for it (like the manuals.)
>
>Next version. It is being worked on even as I type (well, ten seconds
>before I started typing, and probably ten seconds after I finish, anyway).
>
>>2) in the Rev on-line docs - all links should have color or some
>>indication of being "hot". It is EXTREMELY poor design to have hot text
>>which is based on invisible hotspots.
>
>Sorry, but no. Let me explain.
>
>The hot spots on a web page (to take one example) are generally primary:
>that is, they are gateways to information that all readers are presumably
>interested in. Given this, the visual measles that afflicts most web pages
>is a reasonable price to pay; it makes the page less readable, but it helps
>you find the links.
>
>The clickable hot spots in Revolution's documentation are of two kinds:
>Transcript terms and glossary entries. The Transcript terms are primary,
>and they're marked with boldface - which compromises readability somewhat,
>but 1) makes them easy to find and 2) prevents problems where a Transcript
>term is also an English word, and therefore might cause confusion if it
>weren't marked in some way. (E.g. references to the "it" variable:
>"Therefore, if you need to use the value of it, make sure none of these
>commands is executed between the time you set it and the time you read its
>value.") Failing to mark a primary hotspot is indeed bad design, because
>the assumption is that all users are interested in this further
>information, and not marking it is making the user hunt for it.
>
>Glossary entries, on the other hand, are not primary sources of
>information; they're not going to be useful, generally speaking, unless the
>term defined is one you don't know. If you don't understand a word,
>clicking it to see whether a definition is available is a fairly natural
>thing to do, whether the word is marked or not. But clicking the glossary
>entry for a term you already know is a waste of time, and not something the
>user should be invited or prompted to do.
>
>Marking the glossary entries also makes the documentation very difficult to
>read because it introduces so much visual distraction. I keep the
>underlineLinks turned on when I'm editing, so I can see what I'm doing, and
>I can tell you it's not a pretty sight and not easy to read for sense. It's
>too much harm to both readability and usability for too little gain, in
>this case.

Having faced this problem (many glossary terms - relatively small 
amount of text) with a number of educational software titles we have 
developed we opted to provide page-specific lists of glossary terms 
adjacent to the main text. I have to agree with Troy that 'invisible' 
hyperlinks are way less than ideal.

Cheers,

Terry...

>--
>Jeanne A. E. DeVoto ~ jeanne at runrev.com
>Runtime Revolution Limited - The Solution for Software Development
>http://www.runrev.com/
>
>
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