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Help is obsolete

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Thu, 06 Dec 2001 10:04:40 -0500
Message-Id: <Version.32.20011205150023.00ac4bf0@pop.iamdigex.net>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Cc: MKDoc developers list <mkdoc-devel@webarch.co.uk>
At 08:42 AM 2001-12-05 , Chris Croome wrote:
>I'm working on a web content management system [1] that I'm trying to
>make as accessible as possible.
>On pages that are used to edit content there are 'Help?' hyperlinks to
>on-line help documentation, a link for each form input element.
>At the moment these are just regular links.
>Two users have complained that when they follow these links and then go
>back the edit content page they have lost any content that they had
>started to write (this is true, it's how it works in most browsers).
>Half the people here are of the view that we shouldn't pop-up new
>browsers windows for help and that users should learn how to open new
>browser windows if they want new windows.

AG::  All of the people there could consider the evidence that separate,
pages for "help" are obsolete.  

Look at The WAVE.  Consider the wisdom from Ellen Francik that was just
retrieved in the content guidelines discussion to "present users with as
concrete choices as you can."

In the context of help filling in a form, this boils down to an expanded view
of the form with more explanation elaborated in place, using the specific
content from the current user session rather than toy examples as far as

One wants the help to be not only context-sensitive but _presented in context_
so that the connection is unavoidable.

If possible, try to recover the material that Gregory Rosmaita has written on
what a form should return on failing a data validity check.  This includes a
brief summary which leads to a tour of the fields needing repair, still
presented in the context of the other fields for review and edit as the user
wishes.  In other words have a good recovery plan for incompletely filled in
transaction forms, and make 'Help' be a variant of 'submit.'  [That's
to try, not an imperative...]

Has your group looked at XForms?  In principle this should do you better than
what is in HTML today.


>The other half think this is stupid and that we should use links that
>pop-up new browser windows for the help documentation.
>OK, my question: is that a way to use links that open new browser
>windows that is accessible and complies with WCAG Double-A?
>[1] <http://mkdoc.com/>http://mkdoc.com/
>Chris Croome                   <chris@webarchitects.co.uk>
>web design                
>web content management                  

>everything else                  
Received on Thursday, 6 December 2001 09:55:13 UTC

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