Practical Project: User Manual

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UNIT 4 - ⇑ The Computing Practical Project ⇑

← System Maintenance User Manual Quality of Writing →

Important note: This entire section is no longer required for the new specification.

User guides are often shipped with software in order to instruct users on how to use, configure, and manage the program. This is also required for your coursework, regardless of the complexity and realistic requirement of a manual. High marks can be obtained on this section, despite it being arguably easier than the rest of your project, so don't leave it to the last minute.

Title page[edit | edit source]

The title page of the user manual should be professional and appropriate, as you would expect from any other user manual. For example, if your program was called "Jane's Tame Receptionist Game", it should have high-quality screenshots of various stages of the game, and not things that are irrelevant or unprofessional. If possible, try and find some manuals on-line or at your school/college for inspiration.

Contents page[edit | edit source]

This should be separate from your main report, and is a small contents page for the various sections of your manual.

A brief introduction and installation instructions[edit | edit source]

Briefly explain what your program is and its functionality; a few high-quality pictures/diagrams/screenshots could be helpful.

This could also include details on the required hardware and software configuration. For example:

  • Windows XP or above;
  • 1 GB of RAM;
  • 40 MB of free hard disk space;
  • Monitor capable of at least 400x600 resolution

You should then describe in detail, using screenshots, the steps required to install the product. If you have written your own installer (there is one built into Visual Studio 2010, but another option is Nullsoft Scriptable Install System) then show the individual steps, but otherwise describe the process step-by-step with screenshots. For example:

  1. Insert the CD-ROM;
  2. Open the CD folder using Windows Explorer;
  3. Copy the "SweetDatabase" folder to your "Program Files" folder;
  4. ...
  5. Set up new user Accounts;
  6. etc.

Detailed description of the use of the full system[edit | edit source]

Take the user through three tasks (of reasonable complexity) that your system can perform. Use step-by-step instructions and screenshots. Such tasks could include

  • Logging in and editing your details;
  • How to play the game;
  • etc.

Do not just screenshot each form and talk about its functionality. It is required that you include a step-by-step guide of how to complete a task.

Samples of actual screen displays[edit | edit source]

Include four screen shots explaining the functionality of different parts of your system, using arrows and text boxes to assist your description. For example:

  • The menu page;
  • A page to edit users' details;
  • The main game page showing the components of your game.

Samples of error messages and error recovery procedures[edit | edit source]

Default error messages are not acceptable! Try to customise your own

When you have been building your system, especially around the validation rules, if your user inputs incorrect data or tries to do something that the system doesn't allow, the system should not break. It should provide an understandable (simple-to-read) error message. This should certainly not be a computer generated memory dump or seemingly random hexadecimal error code! This section requires that you show at least three distinct error situations then a step-by-step guide or explanation of how to fix the error. Errors might include:

  • Incorrect username and password;
  • Incorrect datatype in a field;
  • Data in a field is out of range;
  • Data in a field is too long;
  • Attempt to load an inaccessible file (non-existent, invalid permissions, etc.).