Documentation/Dashboard/Competitive Documentation Analysis

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Competitive Documentation Analysis

Project Owner

Martina Waller

Competitor Products 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 ...) 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 ...) 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,
  • Table of contents,
  • 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. 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) 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 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?" 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. to
Older documentation on ooo web site should be shifted to an archive. to
Search functions Use more indices in printed material. to
Apply the index terms that users use. to
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. to
In help allow search for similar words (fuzzy search) so that spelling mistakes and languages cases would have no influence on search results. (see WordPerfect Office) to
In help repair the full text search (see issues 45826, 38553 and 61820). to
In help combine index and full text search into one search box. (see Microsoft Office) for
Information types
  • In help separate help topics in mere conceptual and mere instructional content. (see WordPerfect Office)
  • 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.
  • From instructional topics link to conceptual topics.
  • Formulate topic titles in such a way that the user recognizes whether it contains more instructional or more conceptual content. (see WordPerfect Office)
  • Use more examples, particularly in documentations for beginners.
  • 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.
  • Assure a consistent layout in ooo documents.
  • Reduce the icon size in the documents as far as possible and use them only in the first line of a paragraph.
  • 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.
  • Do not indent bullets and numbers in lists.
  • 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)
  • Use more visual stimulants (for example colors, graphics to illustrate concepts) (see Microsoft Office)
  • In the OpenOffice User guide use more links and cross-references.
  • All PDF documents should allow to navigate from the table of contents and the index to the chapters (see WordPerfect Office)
  • In help create links to sub-chapters at the beginning of long articles (see Microsoft Office).
Contents organization
  • Create a problem-oriented context sensitive help in help dialogs (for ex. a list of guides).
  • Make offerings beyond documentation: give access to user groups.
  • In help create an expanding function like in Microsoft Office to allow embedded information for beginners within information for advanced users.
  • Transfer more documentation to the wiki.

Content on this page is licensed under the Public Documentation License (PDL).

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