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Chapter 17. User Assistance > Providing Proactive Assistance

Providing Proactive Assistance

Proactive user assistance, the final category, is relatively new in application development. As I said earlier, the best commercial example of proactive assistance is the Microsoft Office Assistant, which is also, unfortunately, the best example of one of its biggest drawbacks.

The Office Assistant watches the user's actions, and will attempt to provide tips and suggestions based on the types of tasks the user performs. This is great in theory. The problem is that a whole lot of people detest the Assistant. Rather than being perceived as a collaborator, it is more often seen as an irritating little creature telling one how to do one's job. If you decide to implement this style of assistance, just be sure to make it easy for the user to disable it.


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