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July 29, 2011 / Nita

GOPW Halfway Report

Incredibly, my first GNOME summer is already halfway through, so it’s time for a progress report. Here are some of the things I’ve learned and the sub-projects I’ve worked on so far.

How GNOME Documentation is made

All in all, the team seems great, and the tools are used effectively, although some of the process documentation and the style guide could be updated for the newbies’ benefit.

Literature overview

To sum up my impressions, new theories and tools for writing help emerge all the time, but eventually some principles gain wide acceptance. So, at least in some aspects, documentation “best practices” exist, and we can use them.

Also, one of the big problems for help is that many people who would benefit from reading it don’t feel it’s worth the effort. On the bright side, the content and structure of the new GNOME help is already geared toward easier and quicker use. To improve this situation, we’ll need to ensure complete coverage, iron out any usability wrinkles, make getting context-specific help really easy, and give it some time.

A look at Empathy help

  • The documentation was fairly easy to read and navigate.
  • It addressed the questions I had, although it couldn’t solve a particular (rare) problem.
  • For a more thorough review, I will use a checklist derived from the literature. I’m tentatively calling it the “Better help checklist”.

Better help checklist draft

  • Compiled research results, practical guidelines and evaluation heuristics from 6 articles
  • Sorted them by theme (such as structure, language, navigation)
  • To Do:
    • Categorize checklist items by level of application (entire system, section, topic)
    • Improve the wording for better usability
    • Finish writing a short explanation for each item
    • Send the draft to gnome-doc-list for review


Leave a Comment
  1. Ben / Jul 31 2011 1:00 am

    This reminds me…what ever happened to the ‘?’

  2. Ben / Jul 31 2011 1:13 am

    Try again…

    What ever happened to the ‘?’ button that was available on some old programs which allowed you to click almost anywhere and find out what the thing you clicked on was for? Has it been replaced with tooltips, etc.? Would seem mor intuitive than hovering over something until a box appeared magically, and would be faster, especially in the case where another such box just went away.

    Also, long story short, WordPress’ comment form sucks for the Nintendo DSi browser (and probably others); The alt-texts for the “log in” images are all the same, and the textarea eats your comment if you choose wrong or the stars align just right. This is my third time trying to comment.

    • Ben / Jul 31 2011 5:44 am

      After moving to my favorite desktop web browser, I see that they aren’t images at all. Still, “Log In” isn’t a very helpful link text when you can’t see the logo next to it.


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