Browse Prior Art Database

Method For Providing Embedded, Context-Sensitive User Assistance For Software Applications

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000020215D
Original Publication Date: 2003-Nov-03
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Nov-03
Document File: 1 page(s) / 5K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Disclosed is a method for providing embedded, context-sensitive user assistance (UA) for software applications. The method is a "ticker tape" type of line at or near the bottom of a Web interface (similar to a status line that contains status information about a system or application). The line could be called a "Help Line."

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  Method For Providing Embedded, Context-Sensitive User Assistance For Software Applications

  User assistance (UA) would be shown in this help line. It would be context-sensitive because whenever the user "mouses over" any part of the interface, the UA associated with that part of the interface would show in the help line. If the user hovers over a certain part of the interface for longer than a few seconds, the information about that part of the interface would continuously flow (repeat itself) across the help line, and the user would be told to click a button (perhaps on the far left side of the help line) to expand the help line (open it to a pane that splits the current workspace horizontally) for more in-depth information. The user could also click highlighted text in the interface itself and view the associated information in the help line. For example, if the term "adapter" is mentioned in the interface text and is highlighted, the user can click the term and see its definition in the help line.

The help line is different from other forms of embedded, context-sensitive user assistance because it does not overlay the user's workspace. Rather, it remains in the same place, in a static location, which is at or near the bottom of a Web interface. People are becoming accustomed to the "ticker tape" type of info on all the TV news networks--this is a similar idea for providing assistance within a user interface.

Also, the user could show or hide the help line by cl...