Archive for February, 2009

4 Help Tips

We made some big changes to the CS4 Help experience from previous versions of the suite. First, Help is now on the web (there is a stripped down version of Help on your hard drive, but that appears only if you’re not connected to the web). Second, the default page that appears when you choose Help > InDesign Help is the Help and Support page, not the main InDesign Help page. Third, searches in Help can include community content.

As I’ve been looking at survey results and getting feedback from customers, it’s clear to me that a lot of people aren’t happy with all of these changes. While we have some major improvements to Help coming down the pike for the next version, there is only so much we can change for CS4. Here’s what I recommend to make the current Help experience more productive.

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Promoting Websites Thru Comments

I just recently learned about a great InDesign website over at jetsetcom.net. Check out this page in particular. It includes free downloadable PDFs that act as quick resource guides for keyboard shortcuts, hidden characters, preferences and presets, GREP metacharacters, and more.

Here’s how I found out about this resource. One of the site’s owners, Michael Witherell, added comments in various Help topics. Each comment includes a link to one of the related PDFs. For example, he added links to the Keyboard shortcuts topic, to the Working with markers topic, to the Metacharacters for searching topic, and to a few more.

These comments work to everyone’s advantage. If people can’t find the information they’re looking for in Help, they may find what they’re looking for in these comments. And Michael can get more people looking at his website. Quid pro quo, Doctor Lecter.

When I saw what great information was on this website, I added it to the custom search engine so that his web site will appear in the community search results.

We would love for you to use comments to show off, advertise your content, and promote yourself by sharing useful answers, links, and content with InDesign users. If you wrote a tutorial about InDesign, point to it. If you watched someone else’s video tutorial about InDesign and thought that it was good, point to it. If you think you can explain something better than we/I did, then add a comment.