* The Business of Software

A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.

We're closed, folks!


» Business of Software FAQ
» The Business of Software Conference (held every fall, usually in Boston)
» Forum guidelines (Please read before posting!)


Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

How to make an in app interactive tutorial? will it help sales?

I want to make an interactive tutorial inside my app that guides the user by showing "Click Here..." Tooltips one after another, and explains what to do, to get a task done.

Anyone have tried this?
I've seen this in some saas apps.
But mine is a desktop .net 2.0 app.
I've tried to show a series of tooltip control, but having problems with detecting location of buttons to show, and proper sequence of actions once it detects an action is complete.

Would love some feedback / ideas on how you would accomplish this.

I think its a great idea, and will help all of us sell more, if we can implement a step by step interactive tutorial in our software. 
Anyone have one already? does it help sales?
NewGuyOnTheBlock Send private email
Saturday, June 22, 2013
It's a good idea... theoretically.

In practice when I've seen it implemented it is frustrating to use and I give up after trying it a few times.

Most likely anyone attempting this will do a poor job.

Perhaps someone who is good at writing printed/pdf/html tutorials and video tutorials could apply these skills to the much harder task of making an interactive one.

It seems what happens in practice is some non-technically minded technical writer with a humanities degree person takes it on. Their idea of documentation is to write Apple style documentation that says stuff like "The Pixel Handle is the Handle for the Pixels."
Scott Send private email
Saturday, June 22, 2013
give up after trying to use it.

Adobe is the worst.
Scott Send private email
Saturday, June 22, 2013
Lol :)

If I wanted to attempt this, how would I go about doing in a .net application?

Is there a component I can buy?
or something that could help make a sequence of tooltips that I can show at given positions? and hide once action is taken for that button?
NewGuyOnTheBlock Send private email
Sunday, June 23, 2013
I think one approach to this problem would be to use some sort of macro recorder program that can capture mouse movements and keyboard input within your program and play them back on request. I think there is probably a market for a software that does exactly this and allows for annotations to be added.
Andrew Gibson Send private email
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Patrick McKenzie (patio11) found that having a quick demo/tour of his appointment  reminder app made sure customers don't cancel after the free trial.

Check out http://tourmyapp.com/ which has a nice SaaS product for designing such tours to help the user check out the important features of your products.
Srinivasan R Send private email
Sunday, June 23, 2013
But since the OP specifically stated it was a desktop app and not a SAAS how is this going help?
Andrew Gibson Send private email
Sunday, June 23, 2013
A macro recorder is one option, but for most .NET forms the user interface could be scripted fairly easily. If I were to do this I would have a panel popup along the bottom with forward and back button and a label to describe the current step.

Off the top of my head I'd said that you would need two stacks to pop and push the forward and back commands. The commands would be script instructions that would tell your program what action to perform. Looking at the (winforms) app I'm working on at the moment, I don't see any common controls that you can't set the text, perform click, select the index, set the checked state, do a tooltip.Show("text", control), etc. etc.

Now that I think about it, wouldn't this just be an Undo/Redo functionality will the Redo stack pre-programmed?
Nicholas Hebb Send private email
Monday, June 24, 2013
I implemented some kind of tutorial in my app (Pilot SSH, a remote administration app), and I found some people were annoyed, because there were too many popups explaining everything.

I have found a better solution:

* First use screen: when the app doesn't have any servers registered, there's a big text label saying "welcome", and an even bigger button saying "create your first server"
* some text displayed at the bottom of the screen to explain some form elements when the user clicks on them
* some popups when it is really needed

Basically, I consider that there will be specific forms and buttons for the first use of the software. A bit more code to write, but easier to use in the end.
Geoffroy Couprie Send private email
Tuesday, June 25, 2013

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
Powered by FogBugz