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Chapter 17. User Assistance > Providing Reactive Assistance

Providing Reactive Assistance

Reactive user assistance is displayed as a result of some action on the part of the user. In effect, the application reacts by attempting to come to the user's aid. The reactive mechanisms fall into two main groups: feedback and online help. Feedback, in turn, falls into two groups, based on where in the process they occur: progress mechanisms that reassure the user that everything is going along as planned, and confirmation mechanisms that notify the user that an operation has, or has not, been completed successfully.

Ideally, we'd like our applications to respond instantly to any user request. But of course this isn't always possible. Certain operations take time to complete. Database operations in particular often involve perceptible delays. If, despite your best efforts to dissuade her, someone performs a SELECT * on a 3-gigabyte table, the application is going to be busy for awhile.


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