All About Help

When software was first being developed in the 80s, user assistance was born!

It often included all kinds of assistance, including text written in the UI.

It led to Help files, where were available in the software and installed onto the computer with the other software files.

As the Internet evolved in the 90s and well into the 2000s and 2010s, Online Help became more and more expected. After some time, the Help button in software more often just searches the Online Help pages, sometimes called Library Articles.


However, despite that, more and more software designers have come to realize the importance of not relying only on a bunch of pages on the Internet. This effort became known as Integrated Assistance. It is often also sometimes called Embedded Help or simply thought of as User Assistance or good UX Design.


Today, videogames have relied the most on this concept of Integrated Assistance, leading the player through multiple levels (usually the first few levels of a game), that "teach" the player how to play the game. Even sometimes the startup menu features some game clips that exist to help "teach" the player about what they can do in the game. And then, during the game, the player can sometimes access a Tips list that gives some tips of what's possible (how to complete fighting moves, how to do gestures in touch or motion control games, or other techniques in the game that should be learned).


This focus on integrating assistance has led more and more software and website developers to also get the assistance into the UI, helping prompt the user along the way, so that the user doesn't have to leave the UI and search Internet to find what they're looking for.


In Small Basic, the team integrated assistance into code coloring (by giving you different colors in your code, you are more likely to understand what parts of your code fulfill which purpose, such as Operators, Operands, Objects, Variables, etc.). There is also, an ever-present Help pane, which acts as a solicitor of content, helping explain what you're typing or what you just clicked/are editing.

Finally, the redesigned IntelliSense explains each method and object as you type it out. See IntelliSense Redesigned.


This is Day 8 of 30 Days of Integrated Assistance.


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