Difference between revisions of "Documentation/Dashboard/Competitive Documentation Analysis"

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{{DraftPage}}
 
 
'''Competitive Documentation Analysis'''  
 
'''Competitive Documentation Analysis'''  
{{BackToDoc}}
 
 
<Abstract>
 
  
 
==Project Owner==
 
==Project Owner==
Line 9: Line 5:
  
 
==Competitor Products==
 
==Competitor Products==
{| cellpadding="5" cellspacing="1" style="background-color: #666; margin-left: 3em;"
+
{| border=1 cellpadding="5" cellspacing="1" style="background-color: #666; margin-left: 3em; border-collapse:collapse;"
 
|- bgcolor="#DDD"
 
|- bgcolor="#DDD"
 
! OpenOffice.org/StarOffice !! Microsoft Office !! WordPerfect Office !! SoftMaker Office !! GNOME Office !! KOffice
 
! OpenOffice.org/StarOffice !! Microsoft Office !! WordPerfect Office !! SoftMaker Office !! GNOME Office !! KOffice
Line 21: Line 17:
 
| Draw|| - || - || (vector drawing integrated in TextMaker) || (GIMP/Inkscape) || Karbon14/Krita
 
| Draw|| - || - || (vector drawing integrated in TextMaker) || (GIMP/Inkscape) || Karbon14/Krita
 
|- bgcolor="#FFF"
 
|- bgcolor="#FFF"
| Base||Access||(Paradox) || DataMaker || Gnome-DB || Kexi
+
| Base||(Access)||(Paradox) || DataMaker || Gnome-DB || Kexi
 
|- bgcolor="#FFF"
 
|- bgcolor="#FFF"
 
| Math|| - || - || Editor for math. formulas || - || Kformula
 
| Math|| - || - || Editor for math. formulas || - || Kformula
Line 43: Line 39:
 
For further information look at [http://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_office_suites Comparison of office suites] in Wikipedia
 
For further information look at [http://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_office_suites Comparison of office suites] in Wikipedia
  
==Analysis Criteria==
+
==Competitive Analysis==
* Documentation types
+
* '''Documentation types:''' <p>to get an overview of how much documentation is designed for being printed and how much documentation is designed for online use, and to see what different types of documentation are existing (help, manuals, tutorials, training courses, videos, tips and tricks ...)</p>
* Search functions
+
{| border=1 cellpadding="5" cellspacing="1" style="background-color: #666; margin-left: 2em; border-collapse:collapse;"
* Information types
+
|- bgcolor="#DDD"
* Visualization
+
! OpenOffice.org/StarOffice !! Microsoft Office !! WordPerfect Office !! SoftMaker Office !! GNOME Office !! KOffice
* Navigation
+
|- bgcolor="#FFF"  valign="top"
* Contents organization
+
|
 +
* Office internal help files
 +
* Office external docs on the web <br /> - SO Getting Started Guide <br /> - SO programming guides <br /> - SO Quick Reference Cards <br /> - OOO User Guide <br /> - OOO How To's <br /> - OOO tutorials 
 +
||
 +
* Office internal help files
 +
* MS Office online on the web <br />  - tutorials<br />  - demos<br />  - book excerpts<br />  - training courses<br />  - How to's
 +
||
 +
* User Manual
 +
* Office internal help files <br />  - Macros help<br />  - Corel TUTOR<br />  - PerfectExpert*
 +
* Learning Center on the web <br />  - tutorials<br />  - tips&tricks<br />  - How to videos
 +
||
 +
* User Manuals for each application with integrated tutorial
 +
| colspan="2" |
 +
* User Manuals for each application
 +
|}
 +
"* PerfectExpert is a tool for beginners, a totally conceptual help with templates and tutorials that provide advice and guidance specific to the task"
 +
 
 +
 
 +
* '''Search functions''' <p> to have a closer look at the different search functionalities in Application Help and printed documentation (search boxes, index, glossary, chapter headings ...)</p>
 +
 
 +
{| border=1 cellpadding="5" cellspacing="1" style="background-color: #666; margin-left: 2em; border-collapse:collapse;"
 +
|- bgcolor="#DDD"
 +
! OpenOffice.org/StarOffice !! Microsoft Office !! WordPerfect Office !! SoftMaker Office !! GNOME Office !! KOffice
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
|
 +
* Index, full-text search (not working properly) and contents tab in one help module
 +
* Chapters of contents tab grouped but unsorted
 +
* "Find on this page" icon to search in a help page
 +
* PDF docs: Indexes are rare in OOO docs, OOO user manual lacks an index and has an unclear table of contents
 +
|| 
 +
* Only one search box to enter phrases or words
 +
* "Search" drop-down menu allows to extend the search to the web
 +
* Help window shows list of help topics in alphabetical order (web) or logical order (application)
 +
||
 +
* Yahoo! search box in the UI
 +
* Support button in the UI (web support)
 +
* Index, full text search and contents tab in each help module
 +
* Full text search allows search for similar words
 +
* PDF docs: detailed table of contents and index
 +
||
 +
* Table of contents, <br /> index
 +
||
 +
* Table of contents, <br />(index)
 +
||
 +
* Table of contents
 +
|}
 +
 
 +
 
 +
* '''Information types'''<p> to rate the distribution of the four information types:
 +
** instructional information: detailed stepwise instructions
 +
** conceptual information: explanation of specific office terms, particularly important for beginners 
 +
** referential information: functional descriptions (of dialog items or spreadsheet functions for example)
 +
** examplary information: examples that help to understand actions and concepts.</p>
 +
 
 +
{| border=1 cellpadding="5" cellspacing="1" style="background-color: #666; margin-left: 2em; border-collapse:collapse;"
 +
|- bgcolor="#DDD"
 +
! OpenOffice.org/StarOffice !! Microsoft Office !! WordPerfect Office !! SoftMaker Office !! GNOME Office !! KOffice
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
|
 +
* Mostly instructional and conceptual info
 +
* Some referential info (dialog descriptions and Calc functions)
 +
* Little exemplary info (for macros and Calc functions) 
 +
|| 
 +
* Mostly instructional and conceptual info
 +
* Little referential and exemplary (for macros and Excel functions)
 +
||
 +
* Contents tab contains both conceptual info (first heading level) and instructional info (last heading level)
 +
* Mere conceptual info in PerfectExpert Help
 +
* Little referential and exemplary info (for macros and QuattroPro functions)
 +
||
 +
* Balanced mixture of all info types: referential for explaining the screen, instructional for action descriptions, conceptual for the basics, exemplary in the tutorial
 +
||
 +
* Mostly conceptual and referential info
 +
* Little instructional info (in tutorial chapter)
 +
||
 +
* Mostly conceptual, but also instructional (very detailed) and referential info.
 +
* Little exemplary info (in tutorial chapter)
 +
|}
 +
 
 +
 
 +
 
 +
* '''Visualization''' <p> to examine the visual elements that help understanding text (graphics, icons, tables, screenshots, colors, layout)</p>
 +
 
 +
{| border=1 cellpadding="5" cellspacing="1" style="background-color: #666; margin-left: 2em; border-collapse:collapse;"
 +
|- bgcolor="#DDD"
 +
!  !! OpenOffice.org/StarOffice !! Microsoft Office !! WordPerfect Office !! SoftMaker Office !! GNOME Office !! KOffice
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
|'''Graphics''' 
 +
|| none 
 +
|| to explain concepts (for ex. footers)
 +
|| to explain concepts, with captions
 +
|| none
 +
|| none
 +
|| to explain concepts, barely used
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
|'''Icons''' 
 +
|| for buttons, notes, tips 
 +
|| for tips, notes
 +
|| for buttons, tips, notes
 +
|| for buttons
 +
|| for buttons, tips, notes (badly integrated in text)
 +
|| for buttons (badly integrated in text)
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
|'''Tables''' 
 +
|| for shortcut lists and some other stuff
 +
|| for shortcut lists and Excel functions
 +
|| for shortcuts lists, QuattroPro functions and instructional text ("You can also...", "To ... do the following")
 +
|| simple but clear, for shortcut lists, commands, icon explanations
 +
|| barely used and in a mess
 +
|| barely used
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
|'''Screenshots''' 
 +
|| in spreadsheet examples and to explain the workspace
 +
|| to explain screen elements
 +
|| in spreadsheet examples and to explain the workspace
 +
|| to explain the workspce and particular screen elements, frequent in instructional information
 +
|| no consistent use
 +
|| frequent in instructional information
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
|'''Colors''' 
 +
|| none
 +
|| for headings and definitions
 +
|| none
 +
|| for notes and tips background, bullets and numbers and marks in screenshots
 +
|| for marks in screenahots
 +
|| for marks in pictures and terminal commands
 +
|}
 +
 
 +
 
 +
* '''Navigation''' <P> to see how links and cross-references are used </p>
 +
 
 +
{| border=1 cellpadding="5" cellspacing="1" style="background-color: #666; margin-left: 2em; border-collapse:collapse;"
 +
|- bgcolor="#DDD"
 +
! OpenOffice.org/StarOffice !! Microsoft Office !! WordPerfect Office !! SoftMaker Office !! GNOME Office !! KOffice
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
|
 +
* On help pages ◄► and “Home” (browser type)
 +
* Links as cross-references to other chapters or web sites
 +
* Links to definitions
 +
* Links to "Related Topics"
 +
* PDF docs: Cross-references in OOO User manual are rare
 +
|| 
 +
* On help pages ◄► and “Home” and "Top of the page" (browser type)
 +
* Links as cross-references to other chapters or web sites
 +
* Links to definitions
 +
* "See also" section
 +
* Links to subchapters in long articles
 +
||
 +
* On help pages ◄► and "Top of the page" (book type)
 +
* Links as cross-references to other chapters or web sites
 +
* "Related Topics" button
 +
* Within PerfectExpert: browser like navigation, link to web help and other help modules
 +
||
 +
* Detailed cross-references to other chapters
 +
||
 +
* On help pages ◄► (browser type)
 +
* Links as cross-references to other chapters
 +
* Table of contents on each site
 +
||
 +
* On help pages ◄► and “Home” (book type)
 +
* Links as cross-references to other chapters or web sites
 +
* Must always browse back to table of contents to select a subject
 +
|}
 +
 
 +
 
 +
* '''Contents organization''' <p> to answer the questions "Where are the contents?" and "Are the contents easy to find?"
 +
 
 +
{| border=1 cellpadding="5" cellspacing="1" style="background-color: #666; margin-left: 2em; border-collapse:collapse;"
 +
|- bgcolor="#DDD"
 +
! OpenOffice.org/StarOffice !! Microsoft Office !! WordPerfect Office !! SoftMaker Office !! GNOME Office !! KOffice
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
|
 +
* Nearly no help contents on the web
 +
* Context-sensitive help in dialogs is mostly referential info
 +
* OOO offers User manual, Setup guide, How to's, FAQs, tutorials and templates on the web
 +
* For OOO How to's it is not easy to recognize to which software version they apply
 +
* SO "Getting Started Guide" delivered with the product
 +
|| 
 +
* Help is much more than a search for info to command the program (possible search for users, updates, demos, training... on the web). But searching the web can be confusing
 +
* Context-sensitive help in dialogs is rare. Extended help is well elaborated.
 +
* Good user guidance in the program (single entry point to the help)
 +
* Expanding function allows to embed info for beginners
 +
* No printable (PDF) docs available
 +
||
 +
* Help is extended to the web (menu item, Yahoo! search box, support button)
 +
* Application help of the package is organized in different modules for different target groups (Macros help, context-sensitive PerfectExpert help, Corel TUTOR, WordPerfect Help)
 +
* Similar look and feel of help modules enables quick orientation but can be confusing in the beginning.
 +
||
 +
* No application help (only PDF manuals)
 +
* PDF manuals available on the web
 +
* For every application exists one manual (similar look and feel)
 +
* Clear table of contents (three heading levels) and comprehensive index allow to find info quickly
 +
* Combination of reference book and tutorial
 +
||
 +
* Different look and feel of the help modules makes orientation difficult
 +
* Contents are not well organized because chapter titles are misleading or not meaningful (ex.: "How to" contains only conceptual info)
 +
* No printable (PDF) docs available
 +
||
 +
* Similar look and feel of the help modules enables quick orientation.
 +
|}
  
 
==Recommendations for OpenOffice==
 
==Recommendations for OpenOffice==
 +
 +
{| cellpadding="5" cellspacing="1" style="background-color: #666; margin-left: 2em;"
 +
|- bgcolor="#DDD"
 +
!  !! Recommendations !! Reason
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
| rowspan="2" |'''Documentation types'''
 +
|| Printable guides on ooo web site should state for which version they are valid.
 +
|| Indicated publication dates make it easy to sort out outdated material when looking for help.
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
| Older documentation on ooo web site should be shifted to an archive.
 +
|| When a new version is available it should get the focus. The documentation offerings would be more clearly arranged with an archive.
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
| rowspan="6" |'''Search functions''' 
 +
|| Use more indices in printed material.
 +
|| Search functionality in printed material is restricted to the table of contents and the index. An index is particularly important if users have a lot of pages to look through.
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top" 
 +
| Apply the index terms that users use. In order to do so: implement a feature that allows users to notify us about missed index terms.
 +
|| Users complain that search terms that they enter are not contained in the index. 
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
|In help create an application specific contents tab. (Now, the left side of the help window has always the same folders listed.) / Or, at least, bring the main chapters of the contents tab in a reasonable order.
 +
|| More consistent help. The contents tab would behave like the index tab. Users know which applications are included in the office package. But working with an application they want an overview of the application or a task to be done. This information is now on the second contents tab level and could be “lifted” to the first level with an application specific contents tab. / Users tend to see the contents files as the chapters of a book. This suggests a logical order of the subjects.
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
|In help allow search for similar words (fuzzy search) so that spelling mistakes and language cases would have no influence on search results. (see WordPerfect Office)
 +
|| Users often make spelling mistakes  when they enter words in the search boxes. Search results could be independent from cases (nominative, genitive case ...)
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
|In help repair the full text search (see issues 45826, 38553 and 61820).
 +
|| Malfunction of tools gives an impression of bad quality. 
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
|In help combine index and full text search into one search box. (see Microsoft Office)
 +
|| Users like to ask colleagues if they have problems with the software. So, they would be happy if they could ask their computer in the same way.
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
| rowspan="6" |'''Information types''' 
 +
|| In help separate help topics in mere conceptual and mere instructional content. (see WordPerfect Office)
 +
|| Separation of conceptual and instructional content allows users to find background information quickly.
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
|Remove conceptual content from the help and collect it in a printable document or the wiki where the user can look it up when needed.
 +
|| Background concepts require more reading context. Help remains concise.
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top" 
 +
|From instructional topics link to conceptual topics.
 +
|| The user sometimes needs conceptual background information. With links it can be given without overloading the instructional help file.
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
|Formulate topic titles in such a way that the user recognizes whether it contains more instructional or more conceptual content. (see WordPerfect Office)
 +
|| When learning procedural knowledge (=instructional information) the user must refer to conceptual knowledge that she already has (advanced users) or has to learn (beginners).
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top" 
 +
|Use more examples, particularly in documentations for beginners.
 +
|| VOC survey results show that users want more examples.
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top" 
 +
|Adopt the more user-friendly function reference help from Microsoft Excel: Each function category of our category list should be linked to a list of the corresponding functions with short descriptions. Based on the descriptions the user can then select the appropriate function.
 +
|| The actual function reference consists of long category files. The user has to scroll through the whole category which is very time-consuming. The Microsoft model allows to find the appropriate function after two clicks due to the function list with short descriptions.
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
| rowspan="6" |'''Visualization''' 
 +
|| Assure a consistent layout in ooo documents.
 +
|| A consistent layout enables easy orientation within the documents.
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
| Reduce the icon size in the documents as far as possible and use them only in the first line of a paragraph.
 +
|| Icons that are too large constrain the flow of reading and get too much attention.
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
| In the table of contents of the OpenOffice User Guide highlight chapter titles, do not provide more than three chapter levels and create chapter groups.
 +
|| The current table of contents is too confusing. The user does not know where a new chapter begins
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
| Do not indent bullets and numbers in lists.
 +
|| Bullets and numbers already indicate a list. Indentation means over-formatting.
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
| In online help use tables also for action alternatives. If we use normal text for menu selections, we could use tables for action alternatives (for example, context menus and icons). (see WordPerfect Office)
 +
|| Tables are a good means to present contents clearly arranged. If we use normal text for menu selections, we could use tables for action alternatives (context menus and icons). Users can then find quickly what they need.
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
| Use more visual stimulants (for example colors, graphics to illustrate concepts) (see Microsoft Office)
 +
|| Colors and graphics increase the reading motivation. Graphics help to understand the text.
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
| rowspan="3" |'''Navigation''' 
 +
|| In the OpenOffice User guide use more links and cross-references.
 +
|| Links and cross-references provide significant added value when a user reads a topic and finds that it contains relevant content but does not quite answer the specific question that she had in mind.
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
| All PDF documents should allow to navigate from the table of contents and the index to the chapters (see WordPerfect)
 +
|| Although it is bad for their eyes, people tend to read printable docs on the screen. It is then much easier to click a link than to enter a page number.
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
| In help create links to sub-chapters at the beginning of long articles (see Microsoft Office).
 +
|| Although it would be better to split long chapters, it is an easy and quick solution to offer links to below-mentioned subjects at the beginning of topics.
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
| rowspan="4" |'''Contents organization''' 
 +
|| Create a problem-oriented context sensitive help in help dialogs (for ex. a list of guides).
 +
|| Users who press the help button in dialogs have a problem they want to be resolved. Help must offer resolutions for user problems at this place (for example a list of guides).
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top" 
 +
| Make offerings beyond documentation: give access to user groups.
 +
|| Users who do not find a resolution to their problem within the help or documentation want to contact other users or look for help in the Internet.
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
| In help create an expanding function like in Microsoft Office to allow embedded information for beginners within information for advanced users.
 +
|| This is more user friendly than a cross-reference because you have the whole text context and do not need to switch between two windows.
 +
|- bgcolor="#FFF" valign="top"
 +
| Transfer more documentation to the wiki.
 +
|| The wiki can be maintained by the community, and it would make the project more attractive to contributors.
 +
|}
  
  
 
{{PDL1}}
 
{{PDL1}}
[[Category: Documentation]]
+
[[Category: Documentation/Dashboard]]

Latest revision as of 14:59, 13 November 2007

Competitive Documentation Analysis

Project Owner

Martina Waller

Competitor Products

OpenOffice.org/StarOffice Microsoft Office WordPerfect Office SoftMaker Office GNOME Office KOffice
Writer Word WordPerfect TextMaker AbiWord KWord
Calc Excel QuattroPro PlanMaker Gnumeric KSpread/KChart
Impress PowerPoint Presentations Presentations - KPresenter
Draw - - (vector drawing integrated in TextMaker) (GIMP/Inkscape) Karbon14/Krita
Base (Access) (Paradox) DataMaker Gnome-DB Kexi
Math - - Editor for math. formulas - Kformula
Windows, Unix, Linux, (OS X) Windows, OS X Windows Windows, Linux Windows, Unix, (OS X) Unix, Linux


Other competitor products that were not analyzed are:

For further information look at Comparison of office suites in Wikipedia

Competitive Analysis

  • Documentation types:

    to get an overview of how much documentation is designed for being printed and how much documentation is designed for online use, and to see what different types of documentation are existing (help, manuals, tutorials, training courses, videos, tips and tricks ...)

OpenOffice.org/StarOffice Microsoft Office WordPerfect Office SoftMaker Office GNOME Office KOffice
  • Office internal help files
  • Office external docs on the web
    - SO Getting Started Guide
    - SO programming guides
    - SO Quick Reference Cards
    - OOO User Guide
    - OOO How To's
    - OOO tutorials
  • Office internal help files
  • MS Office online on the web
    - tutorials
    - demos
    - book excerpts
    - training courses
    - How to's
  • User Manual
  • Office internal help files
    - Macros help
    - Corel TUTOR
    - PerfectExpert*
  • Learning Center on the web
    - tutorials
    - tips&tricks
    - How to videos
  • User Manuals for each application with integrated tutorial
  • User Manuals for each application

"* PerfectExpert is a tool for beginners, a totally conceptual help with templates and tutorials that provide advice and guidance specific to the task"


  • Search functions

    to have a closer look at the different search functionalities in Application Help and printed documentation (search boxes, index, glossary, chapter headings ...)

OpenOffice.org/StarOffice Microsoft Office WordPerfect Office SoftMaker Office GNOME Office KOffice
  • Index, full-text search (not working properly) and contents tab in one help module
  • Chapters of contents tab grouped but unsorted
  • "Find on this page" icon to search in a help page
  • PDF docs: Indexes are rare in OOO docs, OOO user manual lacks an index and has an unclear table of contents
  • Only one search box to enter phrases or words
  • "Search" drop-down menu allows to extend the search to the web
  • Help window shows list of help topics in alphabetical order (web) or logical order (application)
  • Yahoo! search box in the UI
  • Support button in the UI (web support)
  • Index, full text search and contents tab in each help module
  • Full text search allows search for similar words
  • PDF docs: detailed table of contents and index
  • Table of contents,
    index
  • Table of contents,
    (index)
  • Table of contents


  • Information types

    to rate the distribution of the four information types:

    • instructional information: detailed stepwise instructions
    • conceptual information: explanation of specific office terms, particularly important for beginners
    • referential information: functional descriptions (of dialog items or spreadsheet functions for example)
    • examplary information: examples that help to understand actions and concepts.

OpenOffice.org/StarOffice Microsoft Office WordPerfect Office SoftMaker Office GNOME Office KOffice
  • Mostly instructional and conceptual info
  • Some referential info (dialog descriptions and Calc functions)
  • Little exemplary info (for macros and Calc functions)
  • Mostly instructional and conceptual info
  • Little referential and exemplary (for macros and Excel functions)
  • Contents tab contains both conceptual info (first heading level) and instructional info (last heading level)
  • Mere conceptual info in PerfectExpert Help
  • Little referential and exemplary info (for macros and QuattroPro functions)
  • Balanced mixture of all info types: referential for explaining the screen, instructional for action descriptions, conceptual for the basics, exemplary in the tutorial
  • Mostly conceptual and referential info
  • Little instructional info (in tutorial chapter)
  • Mostly conceptual, but also instructional (very detailed) and referential info.
  • Little exemplary info (in tutorial chapter)


  • Visualization

    to examine the visual elements that help understanding text (graphics, icons, tables, screenshots, colors, layout)

OpenOffice.org/StarOffice Microsoft Office WordPerfect Office SoftMaker Office GNOME Office KOffice
Graphics none to explain concepts (for ex. footers) to explain concepts, with captions none none to explain concepts, barely used
Icons for buttons, notes, tips for tips, notes for buttons, tips, notes for buttons for buttons, tips, notes (badly integrated in text) for buttons (badly integrated in text)
Tables for shortcut lists and some other stuff for shortcut lists and Excel functions for shortcuts lists, QuattroPro functions and instructional text ("You can also...", "To ... do the following") simple but clear, for shortcut lists, commands, icon explanations barely used and in a mess barely used
Screenshots in spreadsheet examples and to explain the workspace to explain screen elements in spreadsheet examples and to explain the workspace to explain the workspce and particular screen elements, frequent in instructional information no consistent use frequent in instructional information
Colors none for headings and definitions none for notes and tips background, bullets and numbers and marks in screenshots for marks in screenahots for marks in pictures and terminal commands


  • Navigation

    to see how links and cross-references are used

OpenOffice.org/StarOffice Microsoft Office WordPerfect Office SoftMaker Office GNOME Office KOffice
  • On help pages ◄► and “Home” (browser type)
  • Links as cross-references to other chapters or web sites
  • Links to definitions
  • Links to "Related Topics"
  • PDF docs: Cross-references in OOO User manual are rare
  • On help pages ◄► and “Home” and "Top of the page" (browser type)
  • Links as cross-references to other chapters or web sites
  • Links to definitions
  • "See also" section
  • Links to subchapters in long articles
  • On help pages ◄► and "Top of the page" (book type)
  • Links as cross-references to other chapters or web sites
  • "Related Topics" button
  • Within PerfectExpert: browser like navigation, link to web help and other help modules
  • Detailed cross-references to other chapters
  • On help pages ◄► (browser type)
  • Links as cross-references to other chapters
  • Table of contents on each site
  • On help pages ◄► and “Home” (book type)
  • Links as cross-references to other chapters or web sites
  • Must always browse back to table of contents to select a subject


  • Contents organization

    to answer the questions "Where are the contents?" and "Are the contents easy to find?"

OpenOffice.org/StarOffice Microsoft Office WordPerfect Office SoftMaker Office GNOME Office KOffice
  • Nearly no help contents on the web
  • Context-sensitive help in dialogs is mostly referential info
  • OOO offers User manual, Setup guide, How to's, FAQs, tutorials and templates on the web
  • For OOO How to's it is not easy to recognize to which software version they apply
  • SO "Getting Started Guide" delivered with the product
  • Help is much more than a search for info to command the program (possible search for users, updates, demos, training... on the web). But searching the web can be confusing
  • Context-sensitive help in dialogs is rare. Extended help is well elaborated.
  • Good user guidance in the program (single entry point to the help)
  • Expanding function allows to embed info for beginners
  • No printable (PDF) docs available
  • Help is extended to the web (menu item, Yahoo! search box, support button)
  • Application help of the package is organized in different modules for different target groups (Macros help, context-sensitive PerfectExpert help, Corel TUTOR, WordPerfect Help)
  • Similar look and feel of help modules enables quick orientation but can be confusing in the beginning.
  • No application help (only PDF manuals)
  • PDF manuals available on the web
  • For every application exists one manual (similar look and feel)
  • Clear table of contents (three heading levels) and comprehensive index allow to find info quickly
  • Combination of reference book and tutorial
  • Different look and feel of the help modules makes orientation difficult
  • Contents are not well organized because chapter titles are misleading or not meaningful (ex.: "How to" contains only conceptual info)
  • No printable (PDF) docs available
  • Similar look and feel of the help modules enables quick orientation.

Recommendations for OpenOffice

Recommendations Reason
Documentation types Printable guides on ooo web site should state for which version they are valid. Indicated publication dates make it easy to sort out outdated material when looking for help.
Older documentation on ooo web site should be shifted to an archive. When a new version is available it should get the focus. The documentation offerings would be more clearly arranged with an archive.
Search functions Use more indices in printed material. Search functionality in printed material is restricted to the table of contents and the index. An index is particularly important if users have a lot of pages to look through.
Apply the index terms that users use. In order to do so: implement a feature that allows users to notify us about missed index terms. Users complain that search terms that they enter are not contained in the index.
In help create an application specific contents tab. (Now, the left side of the help window has always the same folders listed.) / Or, at least, bring the main chapters of the contents tab in a reasonable order. More consistent help. The contents tab would behave like the index tab. Users know which applications are included in the office package. But working with an application they want an overview of the application or a task to be done. This information is now on the second contents tab level and could be “lifted” to the first level with an application specific contents tab. / Users tend to see the contents files as the chapters of a book. This suggests a logical order of the subjects.
In help allow search for similar words (fuzzy search) so that spelling mistakes and language cases would have no influence on search results. (see WordPerfect Office) Users often make spelling mistakes when they enter words in the search boxes. Search results could be independent from cases (nominative, genitive case ...)
In help repair the full text search (see issues 45826, 38553 and 61820). Malfunction of tools gives an impression of bad quality.
In help combine index and full text search into one search box. (see Microsoft Office) Users like to ask colleagues if they have problems with the software. So, they would be happy if they could ask their computer in the same way.
Information types In help separate help topics in mere conceptual and mere instructional content. (see WordPerfect Office) Separation of conceptual and instructional content allows users to find background information quickly.
Remove conceptual content from the help and collect it in a printable document or the wiki where the user can look it up when needed. Background concepts require more reading context. Help remains concise.
From instructional topics link to conceptual topics. The user sometimes needs conceptual background information. With links it can be given without overloading the instructional help file.
Formulate topic titles in such a way that the user recognizes whether it contains more instructional or more conceptual content. (see WordPerfect Office) When learning procedural knowledge (=instructional information) the user must refer to conceptual knowledge that she already has (advanced users) or has to learn (beginners).
Use more examples, particularly in documentations for beginners. VOC survey results show that users want more examples.
Adopt the more user-friendly function reference help from Microsoft Excel: Each function category of our category list should be linked to a list of the corresponding functions with short descriptions. Based on the descriptions the user can then select the appropriate function. The actual function reference consists of long category files. The user has to scroll through the whole category which is very time-consuming. The Microsoft model allows to find the appropriate function after two clicks due to the function list with short descriptions.
Visualization Assure a consistent layout in ooo documents. A consistent layout enables easy orientation within the documents.
Reduce the icon size in the documents as far as possible and use them only in the first line of a paragraph. Icons that are too large constrain the flow of reading and get too much attention.
In the table of contents of the OpenOffice User Guide highlight chapter titles, do not provide more than three chapter levels and create chapter groups. The current table of contents is too confusing. The user does not know where a new chapter begins
Do not indent bullets and numbers in lists. Bullets and numbers already indicate a list. Indentation means over-formatting.
In online help use tables also for action alternatives. If we use normal text for menu selections, we could use tables for action alternatives (for example, context menus and icons). (see WordPerfect Office) Tables are a good means to present contents clearly arranged. If we use normal text for menu selections, we could use tables for action alternatives (context menus and icons). Users can then find quickly what they need.
Use more visual stimulants (for example colors, graphics to illustrate concepts) (see Microsoft Office) Colors and graphics increase the reading motivation. Graphics help to understand the text.
Navigation In the OpenOffice User guide use more links and cross-references. Links and cross-references provide significant added value when a user reads a topic and finds that it contains relevant content but does not quite answer the specific question that she had in mind.
All PDF documents should allow to navigate from the table of contents and the index to the chapters (see WordPerfect) Although it is bad for their eyes, people tend to read printable docs on the screen. It is then much easier to click a link than to enter a page number.
In help create links to sub-chapters at the beginning of long articles (see Microsoft Office). Although it would be better to split long chapters, it is an easy and quick solution to offer links to below-mentioned subjects at the beginning of topics.
Contents organization Create a problem-oriented context sensitive help in help dialogs (for ex. a list of guides). Users who press the help button in dialogs have a problem they want to be resolved. Help must offer resolutions for user problems at this place (for example a list of guides).
Make offerings beyond documentation: give access to user groups. Users who do not find a resolution to their problem within the help or documentation want to contact other users or look for help in the Internet.
In help create an expanding function like in Microsoft Office to allow embedded information for beginners within information for advanced users. This is more user friendly than a cross-reference because you have the whole text context and do not need to switch between two windows.
Transfer more documentation to the wiki. The wiki can be maintained by the community, and it would make the project more attractive to contributors.


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