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Learning Carbon by Apple Computer Inc

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Chapter 12. Providing Help

No matter how intuitive a user interface for an application may seem to the developer, it’s likely some people will need information about using it. To make a complete application, you should provide user help.

Apple’s philosophy of help is that users look at it with a specific goal in mind. In other words, users turn to help when they know what they want to do in the application but aren’t sure how to do it. The application’s help should get users back to their task as quickly as possible. When users open help, chances are that they are already somewhat frustrated and impatient; well-designed help plays a significant part in a user’s overall experience with your application.

In Carbon, you can provide two types of help in your application: help books and help tags. A help book provides onscreen documentation about how to perform tasks or troubleshoot problems. A help book is a collection of HTML files that users view in Help Viewer, a simple browser that can open automatically from your application. A help tag provides a brief description of something in the user interface. A help tag appears when the user hovers the mouse pointer over the item in the interface.

To work with help books and integrate them into your application, you use Apple Help, a technology that includes definitions of HTML elements and programming interfaces. To add simple, text-only help tags to your application, you can use Interface Builder. If you want to provide fancier help ...

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