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[Jess] Jess for context-sensitive help system?

 
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Hi Ernest!
I'm sure we are all familiar with that damn annoying microsoft Mr Clippy, that freak of a paperclip designed to infuriate as well as supposedly fulfilling its role giving context sensitive help. I believe that MS actually refers to it as some type of agent, but I'm not sure how much that really qualifies. But I digress....
Do you feel Jess is suitable for developing a similar context-sensitive help system? This would be an application able to provide context-sensitive help for multiple applications. Naturally each of the applications wishing to use this help system would have to each be designed with this in mind, as well as containing their own specific help info.
So is this something that you think Jess would be helpful for, or would you maybe look somewhere else?
[ September 02, 2003: Message edited by: Jason Menard ]
 
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Hi Jason,
I was just reading something recently about how Clippy's annoying omnipresence is apparently to be blamed on the marketroids. In initial test trials, Clippy wouldn only come up when he had something really useful to say, but this turned out to be rather infrequent. Marketing insisted that he come up all the time so users would benefit from his wisdom more frequently... the change they requested was apparently made.
Anyway, rule engines are really good at recognizing patterns. Normal context-sensitive help just links to a given paragraph based on the selected widget or the particular dialog box that's on screen,and you don't need a rule engine for that, of course. But "smarter" help has to recognize not just single user actions, but ordered combinations of actions. For example, if the help agent saw "select all, copy, new document, paste, save", it might suggest that "save as..." was easier. Recognizing a series of actions might be complicated by moving windows and other actions that happen in between; or there might be alternate versions of the sequence above you could recognize if you "understood" the purpose of each command. If this is the kind of thing you wanted to do, then yes, a rule engine like Jess would be a great way to implement it.
 
Jason Menard
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Originally posted by Ernest Friedman-Hill:
But "smarter" help has to recognize not just single user actions, but ordered combinations of actions. For example, if the help agent saw "select all, copy, new document, paste, save", it might suggest that "save as..." was easier. Recognizing a series of actions might be complicated by moving windows and other actions that happen in between; or there might be alternate versions of the sequence above you could recognize if you "understood" the purpose of each command. If this is the kind of thing you wanted to do, then yes, a rule engine like Jess would be a great way to implement it.


This is more in line with what I was thinking, thanks. Conceptually, I was probably thinking along the lines of an agent, which I guess is what Clippy was supposed to be, at least until the marketing folks got hold of him.
 
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