Mar 1, 2012 David Lang

Award Winning Help. Are You Using It?

Years ago, I was responsible for creating a Help system for Accordance using Apple Guide. It was enough to teach me that writing good help is an extremely difficult job—and Accordance was a much less full-featured program back then!

Writing good help and keeping it up to date is so difficult, in fact, that many software developers have simply stopped doing it. Instead, they have taken a page from the open source playbook, depending on their experienced users to document features and support other users. We've never felt like that was fair to our users, so we have done our best to keep documenting new features and providing good help.

STP LogoA couple years ago, we took a hard look at our help system and recognized that it was time for a major overhaul. So we enlisted the help (no pun intended!) of Deborah Hemstreet, a professional technical communicator, to develop a Help system that would explain even the most advanced features of Accordance to everyone from the new Mac user to the tech-savvy biblical scholar. We're extremely pleased with the work she's done, and now her work is being recognized with the Distinguished Technical Communication Award at the West Michigan Shores – Society for Technical Communication (STC) annual awards banquet. This is the highest award level, and is usually reserved for Help systems created for large companies by teams of specialists. Deborah's work on the Accordance Help System will now advance to the STC 2012 International Summit competitions. For more on Deborah's work and the award she is receiving, see our press release.

HelpButton Are you taking advantage of Deborah's award-winning efforts? If not, you really should be. You can access the Accordance Help through the Help menu, browsing or searching to find the information you need. You can also get context-sensitive help for any Accordance window or tab. Just select Window Help from the Window menu to learn more about the view you're currently working with. Finally, many dialog boxes and tabs include a Help button. Simply click that button for context-sensitive help. At a time when many software developers are cutting their costs by ignoring the need for good documentation, Accordance has enlisted a specialist to develop an award-winning Help system. It's a huge advantage … provided of course that you use it!

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