Browse Prior Art Database

Method for embedding documentation as user interface

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000198615D
Publication Date: 2010-Aug-10
Document File: 2 page(s) / 41K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

As applications become more and more complex, it is very important for the user to have at hand, when filling in the data, the detailed information about the parameters being set. While some description may be included in the application user interface, most of the detailed information is part of the application documentation (help system). One of the largest expenses in a software application's lifecycle over many releases, is keeping the application user interface elements and the corresponding tasks documentation synchronized. In particular, applications that involve a large number of user interface components for user input and configuration require a higher degree of correctness of the tasks documentation, to clearly document the semantics of the various options. Keeping the application user interface and documentation synchronized is also difficult because these two software elements are, typically, delivered by different teams.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
At least one non-text object (such as an image or picture) has been suppressed.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 55% of the total text.

Page 1 of 2

Method for embedding documentation as user interface

Disclosed is a process of in-line documentation support enabling a widget to directly use documentation content for creation of a configuration widget. In the disclosed process rather than creating a separate user interface component to render parameters described by documentation, the documentation is dynamically processed and used directly in the application user interface to collect user input data. Embodiments of the disclosed process typically enable improvement in application development by reducing time and number of developers required to build and maintain user interface components and associated documentation. Embodiments of the disclosed process typically reduce an application footprint by sharing components between documentation and corresponding user interface widgets. As a result, an application may be easier to install, start and run. Embodiments of the disclosed process typically enable improvement in user experience and productivity by providing singular content for viewing documentation and for setting of parameters.

Currently, applications are typically delivered with a separate online help system, and some trigger points (for example, links, F1 help) enabling a user to navigate from the user interface widgets into an associated documentation topic. When users are presented with complex configuration screens, this separation of the application user interface and documentation can lead to a loss of user productivity and error prone interaction because the user has to manually browse and locate appropriate settings information, that may not exist or may be out of date.

To address the described limitations, embodiments of the disclosed process provide an in-line documentation support, which allows a widget to directly use documentation content for creating a configuration widget. Rather than creating a separate user interface component to render the

  arameters described by the documentation, the disclosed process enables the documentation to be dynamically processed and used directly in the application user interface to collect user input data.

The disclosed process uses information associated with the documentation describing user

p

p

 arameters typically done in a relatively well-structured way, which enables programmatic identification of the document and section within the document containing associated parameter information. For example,

p

                roduct documentation follows a structured approach beginning with documents authored in extensible markup language (XML) for example, Darwin Information Typing Architecture, (DITA) from which hypertext markup language (HTML) is generated. The disclosed process may still be used when documentation is directly in HTML, by using HTML document object model (DOM) application programming interfaces (APIs) to identif...