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Chapter 17. User Assistance

In one sense, this entire book is about assisting the user. Remember our mantra: The goal of an application is to help somebody do something. But there are (or should be) components of your application whose primary or exclusive purpose is user assistance. For example, while choosing a NumericUpDown control rather than a TextBox assists the user, the control's primary purpose is data entry. A ToolTip, on the other hand, has no function beyond identifying the purpose of a widget for the user. It is that latter type of widget that is the subject of this chapter.

It's been my experience that user assistance gets squeezed in most noncommercial applications. It's the nature of the system—money and time are always tight; writing help files is expensive and time consuming. When push comes to shove (as it inevitably does), development managers are forced to make the quite reasonable decision that, while you can release an application without a help file, you can't release it without reports.


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