Browse Prior Art Database

Intelligent Context-Sensitive Help

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000102423D
Original Publication Date: 1990-Nov-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-17
Document File: 2 page(s) / 81K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Bulko, WC: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

The configuration of communications software can be a difficult task for an inexperienced user, and APPC (advanced program-to-program communication) is considered by many to be one of the most confusing components to configure. The development of the Intelligent Context- Sensitive (ICS) Help mechanism is a direct result of our investigation into alternate ways of guiding the user through the process of configuring APPC.

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This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 52% of the total text.

Intelligent Context-Sensitive Help

       The configuration of communications software can be a
difficult task for an inexperienced user, and APPC (advanced
program-to-program communication) is considered by many to be one of
the most confusing components to configure.  The development of the
Intelligent Context- Sensitive (ICS) Help mechanism is a direct
result of our investigation into alternate ways of guiding the user
through the process of configuring APPC.

      The ICS Help mechanism provides the user of a Presentation
Manager application additional assistance in accomplishing a lengthy
and complicated task.  In contrast to static help messages, ICS Helps
are dynamic, presenting different messages depending on the state of
the user's application.  After the user completes a subtask and
reaches a decision point, the mechanism analyzes what the user has
already done, makes a decision about what the next logical subtask
should be, and presents a message informing the user about its
recommendation.

      ICS Help consists of a collection of messages that recommend a
course of action to the user, and a set of rules that enable the
mechanism to decide which message is the appropriate one to display
at any given time. Messages are displayed in a read-only multiple
line edit (MLE) field on the panel from which the user performs
subtasks.  An example of a panel containing such an MLE is shown in
the figure. The size of the MLE should be a fixed number of lines
chosen large enough to contain the longest message.  Although the MLE
could be dynamically sized to fit the current message, the constant
reshaping of the box at runtime might be considered distracting to
the user.  A facility should also be provided so that ICS Help ma...