Reading Usable Help
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Gordon R. Meyer
Kelby's Notes offers plug-in Help
Scott Kelby, a well-published Photoshop guru, has released an interesting new help application. Implemented as a Photoshop plug-in, it adds a "How Do I" menu to the application. It's brand-new, and I haven't tried it, but I'm encouraged by what I see at the product website.
The topics are user-focused, and should match up well to what real users do with Photoshop. They also focus on those nagging little questions and easily-forgotten procedures, such as embedding copyright info in an image. Exactly the type of thing that people are likely to turn to the help to find out. While I can't vouch for the appropriateness of all the topics, an expert like Kelby is likely to make the right topic choices for his audience.
Which brings up another point, this is the first product I've seen that capitalizes on an expert's reputation and introduces a third-party onscreen help system, particularly one that supplements the help provided by the manufacturer. It's great to see someone breaking out of the third-party printed books rut. I also like that this isn't trying to be comprehensive, it cherry-picks the most interesting and needed topics, and thus escapes the tricky must-be-all-encompassing trap that most documentation falls into.