Testing the Graphics

Most help files contain graphics - anything from screen captures to toolbar icons to company logos. While they may look perfect on your system, they may not look as flattering elsewhere.

Early help systems were limited to 16 colors. While that limit has gone by the wayside, users still have a plethora of display adapters and screen resolutions. They can also change the system foreground and background colors, which can send your carefully crafted help system into the visual toilet.

Where to start? Check with the marketing or technical folks to see if the software has a minimum system requirement. Besides mentioning processor speed, memory, or hard disk space, it may also mention a minimum graphics resolution or color depth. This is your starting point. If none is mentioned, you may be forced to assume the minimum is 640x480 with only 16 colors. Rest assured your users will be limited only by the technology, so you can safely assume your help file may be run at resolutions exceeding 1600x1200 with 24-bit color.

Besides testing with the various adapters and resolutions, you should also vary the color scheme (remember I mentioned background color?). Changing the background color will give you an easy way of finding those bitmaps where the transparency has not been enabled.

Copyright © 2009 by Dana Cline
Last Updated  Monday, April 06, 2009
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