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Re: Alternate applications

In message <3539705A.2EF4BBB3@usa.net>, forgeltd@usa.net writes:
>Two Ducks wrote:
>> desktop. We could provide information for common alternatives (which 
>> nsmail might be.) Or we could provide the complicated (but smooth!)
>> solution. I would suggest at the moment choice number two.
>Help for other APPs should be shipped as part of that APP and linked 
>into the existing help system once the app is installed.  so forinstance
>doing a search on Netscape Mail will come up blank if Netscape isn't 
>installed but give proper instructions if it is.  

I think this is true, but I think we should also support shipping helps
as a unit distribution. For instance, I'm sure there are some things
that don't want to come bundled with a pile of helps (binary kernel
packages?) In addition, what about helps that cover multiple apps -- which
app do they come with? Also, if we support both methods of distribution,
we have a better chance of getting people to actually use our helps in
other distributions. If they need to come with the app, then we need to
convince the person distributing that app to include such-and-such format
help files. Not everybody will want to do that.

>Linking it into the search system is the critical next step that no 
>existing OS provides.  Talk about competitive edge ?  

A real help system is something Linux is sorely lacking these days (though
now that you mention it, this is something that is missing in all the other
OS's I've seen too). What exactly are the requirements we have for this?
* Natural language parsing, so the user can literally ask "How do I view my
* Documents need to be dynamic based on current configuration, so it doesn't
answer "print it on your printer" if the user has no printer attached (ok,
maybe that's a stupid example...:)
* Keyword search, with knowledge of "usually useful" keywords.
* Different "levels" of complication for helps, so we can provide more
complicated or less complicated answers. There were several good posts about
this earlier. (Somebody want to collate them into something useful? We can
put it on the webpage if it isn't already.)

Is it feasible to learn about how the user usually asks questions, and
adapt the help environment appropriately? Have tutorials to cover things
the user is still confused about, rather than forcing the user to try to
formulate specific questions...

There are many possibilities here.

>Why not just include help for other apps in a help distribution ?
>2 reasons.  
>1 : Help needs to change when the apps do.

This can still be done with separate helps, though I'll admit it's more
tricky, especially when we consider that outdated helps can be disastrously

>2 : The system must be completely open ended, so you can invent a 
>whole new app category, like KDE Drancing ( A program to produce music 
>by watching you dance )

This becomes moot if we allow helps to come from both application packages
and help packages.