Tech Write Tips

April 3, 2006

What is: Assistance Platform

Filed under: Future-proofing,Information Types,Technology,Vista,What is — AndyR @ 7:00 am

MAML.gifAssistance Platform (AP) is part of a new approach to help in Windows Vista. This approach is both more integrated with the software and more focused on user tasks. AP is the technology used to deliver Help for windows vista. It takes the MAML content and presents it to the user in an appropriate location.

Rather than present user assistance information as one help file with a large Table Of Contents, it can now appear in the following locations:

-Directly in User Experience
  – Embeded Help 
  – Super Tooltips 
  – Ribbon 
  – Help pannels
-In application Context
  – Help window
-No Context
  – Help Centre

AP Wokrflow (Programming Windows Help PDC03)

  1. Well-designed app UI
  2. Assistance directly in app UI
  3. Help Pane and Help Center
  4. User community
  5. Your product support center
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7 Comments »

  1. This is all well and good but my users have said they mainly use the TOC in the help. Doesn’t anyone else mind that microsoft are removing the TOC from the help, without even considering if it is useful to the users or indeed the authors.

    Comment by marks — April 11, 2006 @ 7:27 am | Reply

  2. Microsoft is a global bully in the technology industry. Anything that suits their cash flow is what is going to happen. I don’t blame Microsoft for doing business. I blame all those who blindly follow and assume something is great just because Microsoft said so.
    Besides that, Vista will not have a significant weight in the Windows / OS market for at least two years. And it will take quite a bit longer until the number of non-Vista Windows installations becomes irrelevant. Because of that, one cannot abandon everything else and generate Vista-only help. So before the Vista AP approach becomes of need, I am sure Microsoft came up with something else. The AP approach is just a new name for the old GUI Wizard concept that is around for years.
    I also wonder how much more discrete content needs to be created. The content is spread across the entire application in various formats. All content needs to be maintained and all formats need to be generated. I doubt that one can generate one help project with all content and then use code to have the correct portions displayed. So is this AP and UX stuff something that can easily get pulled in from outside sources (such as a help file) or does it need to be compiled by software developers in some way ? Once it is in compiled code, changes are difficult.
    I think the problems are far bigger than just the missing ToC.

    Comment by RamonS — April 11, 2006 @ 12:26 pm | Reply

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