A manual and an online help system simplify work with the software and with installation and configuration.
The manual and the online help contain everything users need to know about a software product.
We write manuals and online help for the most varied software products. And we also take care of updating existing documents.
Our aim is user-friendly documents: brief and precise, easy to understand, clear, and up to date.
We analyze the target groups for your software, determine their information needs, research the contents, write the texts, and create screenshots and other visual material. Finally, we produce the documents in the desired target format, for example as a printable PDF manual and as online help in HTML.
The user guide explains how to use the software from the end-users’ perspective. It describes the concepts of the software in a way that is easy to understand and contains step-by-step instructions.
The guide concentrates not so much on the individual software functions as on users’ tasks and golas. The structure and contents are oriented largely on what information users need to perform their tasks.
We analyze users’ tasks and use this information to develop the guide’s structure. Then we write the contents and test the instructions with the software. This shows us whether the instructions work and the different steps are properly and completely described.
Quick guide and “Getting Started” guide
A quick guide explains the most frequently used features in one or two pages. This gives users a quick overview of the software and enables them to look up information quickly when necessary.
A good start is important for getting to know a software product. This is where a “Getting Started” guide is important. The guide takes users through the first steps, explains the most important terms, and gives orientation for further procedures.
We find out whether a quick guide or a “Getting Started” guide is appropriate for your software product and select the right information.
For applications with a wide range of features, tutorials are a useful complement to the user guide.
Tutorials take users step by step through more complex tasks. With concrete sample data and exercise files, they allow users to perform steps directly in the software. This helps newcomers to learn about more complex features.
Installation guide and customizing documentation
Installation guides describe system requirements and take adminstrators through the installation and initial configuration of the software. They are particularly important for installing more complex systems such as a client-server solution with a database, web server and connection to the existing infrastructure.
The customizing documentation helps consultants and administrators to install the software and customize it for the enterprise.
For larger software products, you usually need an administration guide that describes such things as user administration, configuration, monitoring, and backups.
For software with programming interfaces, developer documentation is needed. The developer documentation comprises the complete reference of the API functions with suitable code examples. A developer’s guide helps in the first steps and explains the use of the API.
APIs are mostly documented directly in the source code and the API documentation generated with tools such as Javadoc or Doxygen.
We help you with the documentation of APIs by means of reviews and the editing of code comments. Together with the developers, we plan the structure and content of the developer’s guide, write the texts, and integrate code examples.
Online help gives help just where a question occurs – directly on the computer during work with the software.
For cloud applications, online services and web applications, online documentation is the medium of choice. But online help is also standard for desktop applications.
Depending on the application, the online help runs in the web, on a company-internal server, or locally on the desktop computer.
There are various formats for online help. Here is a small selection:
- Responsive HTML5
HTML5-based, platform-independent online help that adapts automatically to the user’s device (monitor, tablet, smartphone)
HTML-based help format from Microsoft, for which the help is delivered in the form of a single file (CHM file). The help runs on Windows 32-bit platforms and requires the Microsoft Internet Explorer.
- Eclipse Help
HTML-based standard format for applications based on the Eclipse platform
- JavaHelp, Oracle Help
HTML-based standard format for Java applications
If you are planning to implement online documentation, we find out with the developers what requirements and overall conditions are important and what is the most suitable format.
Depending on the authoring system, a single-source approach is also possible by which the manual and the online help are produced from a single source.
A context-sensitive help displays information for precisely the current window. The matching help topic is opened automatically or displayed after pressing the F1 key (for example). This makes it particularly easy for users to get the relevant information.
There are various methods for opening context-sensitive help in the software.
Together with the software developers, we find out the most suitable method and what tasks the technical writers and software developers will then have. On this basis, we write the help texts in a suitable format and supply the help for integration in the software. Finally, we conduct integration tests to ensure that the help call works correctly in the software.