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Method of approach to provide embedded guidance to perform tasks in IDE

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000198595D
Publication Date: 2010-Aug-10
Document File: 3 page(s) / 135K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database


In a typical Integrated Development Environment (IDE), new users to the IDE often spend a great amount of time trying to learn the new concepts of the application while trying to either read help documentation or watch tutorial videos. Also, the users spend a great amount of time building hands-on sample applications, as part of the learning activity. These two activities are a crucial part of the overall learning experience of acquiring new knowledge in new IDE environment, however, there is no known products in the market place that actually provide the following capabilities to aid the user of the IDE to learn about the product more effectively: - Embedded learning capability that allows users of an IDE to learn and build a sample application simultaneously, - For the hands-on learners, help them learn while they are actually using the product, - Intelligently track the users' progress of the learning activity, interact with the IDE environment, and also validate their work while they are making progress, - Provide stop and restart function so the users can save the state of the guidance steps, and return to them later. Currently, technologies like Cheat Sheets in the Eclipse IDE can bring contextual guidance into a product, however, cheat sheets miss the tracking of the context sensitive progress, validation of the work and there is no ability to share saved progress. The disclosed "Task Flows" mechanism leads users in a clear way as to what should be done in order to accomplish a simple learning or productivity task. The system performs the guidance role while keeping the user in the context of actually using the tool, unlike help systems or other mechanism that do the work for the user. The system educates the user about how to use the tool that contains the system, by having the user actually use the tool, albeit in a guided fashion.

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Method of approach to provide embedded guidance to perform tasks in IDE

Disclosed is process for an embedded task flow based user assistance mechanism with tracking. A task flow is a dynamic user assistance mechanism. The task flow guides users through the flow of a previously designed task. Tracking actions of users, the embedded task flow based user assistance mechanism can recognize success when users are on the right track, or draw attention to missing or faulty areas. A task is an end-to-end scenario, which can be as simple as learning how to use a particular component in a product, or as robust as a best practice for commonly

erformed wor

         . A task consists of subtasks, comprising logically grouped pieces of work. A subtask, in turn, has steps in which a step is the smallest unit of work within a task.

There are multiple advantages for adopting the disclosed process for an embedded task flow based user assistance mechanism with tracking. A task flow helps users to discover tooling function step-by-step within the tool, as opposed to having users read through help text and documentation. While working at a step, the task flow mechanism can show contextual and instructional information specific to the work at hand, link help pages, invoke custom actions, for example, open a wizard, or import resources and automate portions of work in productivity tasks.

In embodiments of the disclosed process, task flows are defined declaratively enabling the flows to be designed by domain experts, rather than the developers of the tools. Task flows can be used to interact with multiple products in the system.

Rather than using previously supplied static artifacts, users can use artifacts with this disclosed form of assistance. The instructions can also adapt to actions of the users. Work of a user can be automatically validated within a given context. Each step can define a set of constraints or goals, and when the user satisfies these goals following the instructions, a step can be automatically marked complete. Conversely, when the user fails to follow the instructions, validation messages can be shown informing the user work may have been performed incorrectly. Validation messages to the user are provided in addition to the validation of artifacts created while performing a step.

Using the disclosed process for an embedded task flow based user assistance mechanism with tracking provides a capability to revisit previous steps to check progress, and go forward again. Alternatively, use of a lookup mechanism for steps, without forcing a mandatory path is possible.

The disclosed process for an embedded task flow based user assistance mechanism with tracking can audit a trail, and report the steps a user took after recording the work, and create a task flow of the audit trail. Hence, the disclosed process provides a capability to create a guided learning environment for other users and share domain knowledge.

The progress of a task flow can pers...