[IAEP] [Sugar-devel] RFC:Simple Help widget for activities

Gary Martin garycmartin at googlemail.com
Fri Mar 9 19:09:16 EST 2012

Hi Manuel,

On 9 Mar 2012, at 03:36, Manuel Quiñones wrote:

> Hi Gonzalo,
> El día 7 de marzo de 2012 09:37, Gonzalo Odiard <gonzalo at laptop.org> escribió:
>> We receive many times request about adding help in the activities,
>> and if is true Sugar propose a exploratory approach,
>> not all the people learn in the same way,
>> and there are people who prefer a little guidance.
>> For the development we need a simple api, and easy i18n,
>> and a non obtrusive experience for the user.
>> Inspired by the DescriptionItem, I was experimenting with a widget to add
>> simple help to activities.
>> This is not:
>> * A manual
>> * Lessons
>> * Tips
>> Is a short startup help for the activity.
> I think tips can be better than direct guidance.  "Do this, then do
> that" manner is counterproductive for exploration.  Of course tips can
> be ordered in a convenient way, is a matter of manners.  Would be
> better to see each section at once instead of a large scrollable list.
> I imagine a slideshow with back/forward buttons.
> Also I think visual help can be used instead of text when possible, so
> would be great if the widget allows it.  Images can be understand by
> early children, and are universal, so no need to translate.  Of course
> a little paragraph below the image can be convenient too.
> Here is a mockup I did for the same activity with this ideas:
> http://dev.laptop.org/~manuq/simple_help_mock.png
> What do people think?

I think Gonzalo's mockup is a more attainable goal for most activities, it's using standard UI feature designs as used already else where in Sugar, and introduces no new metaphors (e.g. the iOS/iTunes like page dots). The trick (in either case) will be to keep them short and to the point, too much text, or too much fine detail and few will read much of them – writing the one for Calculate or Write is going to be a challenge to get right ;-)

At a side note, many iOS apps take the startup help route where they provide a graphical overlay that indicates what each button does (sometimes several overlays are needed for each different app view). These provide plenty of flexibility to the developer for the types of information they include (mixed text, graphics, even animation), and they place the help in context next to the real widgets; however they are harder to localise for more than a few languages and require reliable alpha compositing support for fullscreen overlays (ideally through hardware). Folding this information into a single palette, as per Gonzalo's mockup, looses the spacial information context (though the existing palette hints are still there for context if needed), but it seems a good design for us to provide some additional information and help point a user in the right direction.


>> Use only text and the icons already used by the activity.
>> A example can be seen here:
>> http://dev.laptop.org/~gonzalo/images/simple_graph_help.png
>> In the activity we only need do:
>>     helpitem = HelpButton()
>>     toolbar.insert(helpitem, -1)
>>     helpitem.show()
>>     helpitem.add_section(_('Basic usage'))
>>     helpitem.add_paragraph(_('First you need add data to create the
>> graphic'))
>>     helpitem.add_paragraph(_('You can add data with this button'),
>>             'row-insert')
>>     helpitem.add_paragraph(_('...or remove data with this button'),
>>             'row-remove')
>>     helpitem.add_paragraph(_('To change the graphic title, just change the
>> activity title'))
>> ....
>> This proposal is late for sugar 0.96, but may be we can try it in one or two
>> activities,
>> and start thinking about this topic.
>> I really like the help in the Implode activity, but have the following
>> problems:
>> * I don't know if apply to other type of activities.
>> * Is modal
>> * need a lot of code to implement it.
>> Comments?
>> Gonzalo
>> _______________________________________________
>> Sugar-devel mailing list
>> Sugar-devel at lists.sugarlabs.org
>> http://lists.sugarlabs.org/listinfo/sugar-devel
> -- 
> .. manuq ..
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