Inkscape 0.44 has some great tutorials, but they alone can not replace an embedded help system like other applications have. The deficiencies are:
- one cannot find help for a specific tool
- tutorials don't have hyperlinks nor an index
- tutorials cannot really be searched - search is limited to the current document and doesn't jump from hit to hit, but just highlights all hits, and the user has to comb though these
Therefore, we should have a "regular", embedded help system in Inkscape, in conjunction to the tutorials.
- Cedric and Kevin's UserManual would be a nice base
- kind of 3 levels of needs: instant help (already existing, but not for effects/extensions :( ); then a kind of embedded glossary, and finally a big user manual
- short explanation text should be integrated in the inx file or the extension code and then displayed (in a tab for a dialog ?) with the effect... I don't know what would be the best display place for it (status bar at least)
- The glossary could be section and subsections of the big manual, with its own menu item.
- Context-sensitive help is one thing where I think they are spot-on. How hard would it be for us to provide "F1 Help"? If only to pop up a browser on a given html page and #anchor. (Bob Jamison in http://permalink.gmane.org/gmane.comp.graphics.inkscape.devel/16826)
- dsign is already working on a SVG rendering help system. I'm actually not sure it is contect sensitive, but i have please dsign to make it compliant to docbook.
Help Systems on Different Operating Systems
Linux, *BSD, Other Unices
- Do we want to use something like Yelp?
- The GNOME Handbook of Writing Software Documentation - "Writing Context Sensitive Help (coming in GNOME-3.0)"
- Can we produce CHM files?
The "User Assistance" technology or environment has evolved through several major stages, but has always been based upon a restricted HTML 3.2 markup and a lightweight "Help Viewer". See Help on Apple Help for a near illegible page that describes the making of the excellent help system for the pixel editor Pixen (not that many Inkscapers use pixel editors). Apple provides a comprehensive account of the Human Interface factors relating to its technology, but this may be just outside what we need to be thinking about for Inkscape right now.
- "Read your CHM documents on your Mac." - maybe an option too
- Usable Help, a list of just under 250 links to articles on documentation and help systems for software and consumer products.
- Review from German c't magazine pointing out the need of some embedded documentation/help
- ScislaC has a plan to re-arrange and extend our existing tutorial system (FIXME: is there anything written down yet?)