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Developer
blueinc
Posts: 109
Registered: ‎12-04-2008
My Device: Playbook, Torch 9800, Storm 9530, Tour 9630
My Carrier: Telus

Developing app Help System. Any ideas?

Hi Everyone,

Now that one of our PB apps is approved, we'd like to get started on the app's help files/system. We're thinking of a few ways to implement this and wondered what you all are doing to provide help for your PB apps.

Tabbed Container page that tweens in on a button click? Scrolling pop-up panel of some sort?

Your thoughts greatly appreciated :smileyhappy:

 

B

PlayBook Apps: Sudoku Pro
Smartphone Apps: Compass | MultiClock
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Developer
jtegen
Posts: 6,541
Registered: ‎10-27-2010
My Device: HTC One, PlayBook, LE Z10, DE Q10
My Carrier: Verizon

Re: Developing app Help System. Any ideas?

It would be nice to have a unified way in doing help.  There was a video that someone posted that was more context sensitive.  They selected a "help" button on the app and then views and controls got a little question mark icon that when selected, brought up a ballon window with what can be done with the item (or what the item is).

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Developer
UberschallSamsara
Posts: 1,026
Registered: ‎12-29-2010
My Device: PlayBook, Z10 LE, Dev Alpha C

Re: Developing app Help System. Any ideas?

Yep, see this post ...

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Developer
peter9477
Posts: 6,473
Registered: ‎12-08-2010
My Device: PlayBook, Z10
My Carrier: none

Re: Developing app Help System. Any ideas?

I've been hoping we'll hear something, someday, maybe, about the work that these TAT people are supposedly so busy and so good at, and that it might provide some guidance in that area.  (Kind of sad that RIM feels they have to stay silent about it all when they could be offering real guidance, but it looks like we've got little choice but to wait, or just come up with stuff ourselves.)

 

On that note, I've been thinking about bezel gestures and "help", and have a few thoughts.

 

One could use the SWIPE_START event to detect a few gestures that could be useful in this area.

 

One would be to tap-and-hold in the top bezel for a moment, or a double-tap.

 

Another would be swiping within the top bezel area, from one side to another.

 

You could also swipe around either corner, like from top counter-clockwise and down the left, or top-clockwise-around-right corner.  Not so much useful for "help", but could be used for locking in the orientation or something related to that.

 

Anyway, for the help stuff, I thought touch-and-hold would, after a moment, highlight all touch-sensitive controls on the current screen, and then a simultaneous secondary touch on the control would show a help popup or something rather than activating it.

 

Alternatively, a tap (but not swipe) in the top region (detectable as SWIPE_START followed immediately by MOUSE_MOVE, with no simultaneous MOUSE_DOWN, as I described here) would highlight those regions for a moment afterwards and, again, a touch on the controls while they are highlighted would provide help rather than activation.  This one would be more discoverable, as new users would almost certainly activate it accidentally from time to time, and be drawn to investigate.

 

I've been picturing a nice blue animated "glow" effect to highlight the controls, though obviously this could be app-specific.

 

Just some stray thoughts while we're on the topic...


Peter Hansen -- (BB10 and dev-related blog posts at http://peterhansen.ca.)
Author of White Noise and Battery Guru for BB10 and for PlayBook | Get more from your battery!
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Developer
jtegen
Posts: 6,541
Registered: ‎10-27-2010
My Device: HTC One, PlayBook, LE Z10, DE Q10
My Carrier: Verizon

Re: Developing app Help System. Any ideas?

Like your thinking.  For this to work, all controls whould need to have an attribute that has some kind of html text associated to it so the control knows to glow (or something) that it does contain some kind of help.  Additonally, you have to be able to assign this for different launguages.  Best to have it in a locality resource file that gets loaded on request and time the help to the id of the control.

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Developer
blueinc
Posts: 109
Registered: ‎12-04-2008
My Device: Playbook, Torch 9800, Storm 9530, Tour 9630
My Carrier: Telus

Re: Developing app Help System. Any ideas?

Thanks for posting that link. I love the dynamic nature of the 'context-sensitve' little buttons.

Great feedback, All!

 

cheers...B

PlayBook Apps: Sudoku Pro
Smartphone Apps: Compass | MultiClock
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New Developer
NormanF
Posts: 120
Registered: ‎11-24-2010
My Device: 9700

Re: Developing app Help System. Any ideas?

Did anyone ever find out if we can add files for our applications to the help system or if there is a custom help system that we can use?

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Developer
jtegen
Posts: 6,541
Registered: ‎10-27-2010
My Device: HTC One, PlayBook, LE Z10, DE Q10
My Carrier: Verizon

Re: Developing app Help System. Any ideas?

I had a discussion with one of the RIM people a month or so ago but allowing 3rd party apps to register a set of PB help files to the help application. They liked the idea, but like anything, we will not know that it is possible until they release it. Until then, you can try to create your own in-app help system or setup HTML help on your server and have a button that opens up the browser to that location.
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Developer
KenSalmon
Posts: 114
Registered: ‎08-09-2010
My Device: Tour
My Carrier: Bell

Re: Developing app Help System. Any ideas?

I've gone back and forth on a couple of ideas for both HTML based help as well as pop-up context menus. For help, I ended up releasing apps that have a help page the user can navigate to either from the swipe-down menu, or from side to side panning. This help page contains both a more or less generic blurb as well as a button. The button sends a URL of my own for app-specific info. Of course that gives me the opportunity to let the user explore more on the website for other related apps, etc. (partly implemented so far, partly in development).

 

I also experimented with a simple tap to bring up context options, as well as press-and-hold, which is more like what the browser does to bring up a context menu on a link to, say, open the link in a new tab. I tried both ways, and ended up going with the short tap. It uses a simple dialog populated with options depending on the context, but that's ugly if at least functional. Definately going to be doing major renovations on that one. I do like the small popup the browser uses though.

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