Help Engine

This provides context sensitive help with using the software, the current task, the current report or decision entry, individual variables or remarks and, optionally, provide a hypertext manual online.

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Home > Platform > Help Engine

Here I detail my help engine - the standard help buttons, help for variables and comments and help with the learning process. Following this the structure of the help page and the help file are described.

Help Buttons

At the bottom of the screen there is a task bar and,to the left there are several help buttons to provide help with the current software use; the current task or report; an explanation of the current variable being entered and, optionally, a link to the online manual.

Software Help
This provides help with the software - which keys to press, shortcuts etc.

Task/Report Advice
If this is shown, clicking it provides advice on the current task facing the learners or current report being displayed.

Explanations
If this is shown, clicking it provides an explanation of the currently highlighted menu item or decision entry cell.

Online Manual
If an online manual is available a button will be shown to the left of the help button.

Variable/Comment Help

When a report or comments list is displayed on the screen, clicking on an item causes help for that item to be displayed.

In Process Help

Besides context sensitive help, depending on the Simulation Manager for simulations where the participants use the simulator themselves (Direct Use Simulations) help screens can be provided as the simulation progresses. An opening screen can be used to introduce the simulation. Each period, a screen can be provided introducing decisions, a screen introducing results and a screen at the end of the simulated period to stimulate discussion while reflecting on the results and planning the next decision. These period-by-period screens can be used to introduce new decisions, new results, suggest discussion topics and perform tasks. For example, for my Training Challenge simulation decisions were introduced in stages and the period before new decisions were entered, the learners were warned about this.

Help Pages

Help pages are stored in an editable hypertext database.

Help Page Structure
The help records are held in a fully editable file. Each record consists of a title (displayed as a heading), followed by several lines of text and an end of record line.

Help Page Content
Besides text, a help page can include pictures, hypertext links to other help pages and insert data from the variable database.

Number of Pages
The number of help pages depends on the complexity of the simulation and who will be using the simulation software. Where a simulation is used directly by the learners it requires more help pages than where the simulation software is only used by an experienced and knowledgeable trainer. Typically, the number of help pages range from 200 or so to more than 800.

Hypertext Links
The Help Engine provides for full hypertext linking so that information can be provided at different depths and links to further explanations.

Help Databases

The name of the help file used by a simulation version is held in it's Control File and this allow different versions to have different terminology and language.

2012 Jeremy J. S. B. Hall

Most recent update: 19/07/15
Hall Marketing, Studio 11, Colman's Wharf, 45 Morris Road, London E14 6PA, ENGLAND
Phone +44 (0)20 7537 2982 E-mail
jeremyhall@simulations.co.uk