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Method For Shadowing User Activity To Provide Assistance

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000243548D
Publication Date: 2015-Sep-30
Document File: 5 page(s) / 100K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Abstract

Disclosed is a method to graphically author and maintain help documents that can be used to assist the user of a software product. The generated help documents use path based tracking to shadow user actions and determine if the user is working positively towards attaining a declared objective. The user is re-directed towards the correct action to be taken to achieve the objective, if he is in error.

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Method For Shadowing User Activity To Provide Assistance

Summary

One of the major challenges of the increasing reliance on software is that its constantly evolving nature provides us with new tools, applications and frameworks which claim to simplify tasks for the software user. To help users keep pace with the new software introduced, software developers create extensive manuals, online help and cheat sheets. They also provide other forms of help to ensure that software does well in the market and is user-friendly, easy-to-use and efficient.

Authoring and maintenance of the help documents is a major task which is sometimes assigned to a separate team. Many third party tools are used to create help documentation. But they do not fully integrate with the software product and hence, help authoring and maintenance becomes a difficult exercise. Help documentation created using these tools is usually passive and does not provide granular context sensitive help. There is a need to redefine the format in which help documentation is recorded and presented to the software user.

A graphical approach to authoring help documentation drastically reduces the effort of a help author. The generated help documents can be used to monitor user activity and assist the user when he needs help while using a product.

Advantages

1. Provides a complete solution to author and maintain help documents.

2. Enables help authors to create the help documentation using a graphical tool with 'drag and drop' capabilities.

3. Integrates the help documentation with the product by providing active

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assistance during product execution.

4. Eliminates the need for providing help through online chat services and other mediums as currently offered in some products.

5. Provides granular level of context sensitive help to the software user.

Method

An implementer integrates the software product with a component (henceforth referred to as a Shadowing Application) as shown in fig. 1 which enables the product in the authoring and maintenance of help documentation. This packaged product can also shadow the user to provide assistance during product execution.

A help author creates the help manual for a product. This help manual is a collection of help topics. Every help topic, in turn, is a set of help articles. A help article draws the various paths that lead towards an objective. Each p...