[thelist] How to do nonlinear instructions?

Matt Warden mwarden at gmail.com
Fri Nov 21 12:52:15 CST 2008

On Fri, Nov 21, 2008 at 1:00 PM, Stephen Rider <evolt_org at striderweb.com> wrote:
> I'm trying to figure out a good way of doing instructions for
> installation.  I have some already, but it's difficult to write them
> well because of all the variables.
> I sort of have an idea of a branching path, where it asks questions
> and then gives you directions based on the answers, but short of
> manually setting up about a hundred pages, I don't know how I would do
> that.

Stephen, this is a very interesting question... and difficult. I think
your intuition is right. A wizard-like interface could work well. Your
problem reminds me of the "choose your own adventure" books I read as
a kid when I was supposed to be learning for the seventeenth time how
to carry the 1.

I don't think you need one page for every outcome, though. I would
assume there are commonalities. Maybe you have content -- like food
ingredients in a kitchen -- that you throw into the resulting dish
based on the user's answers to the wizard questions. Then at the end
of the wizard you bake up the resulting amalgamation and dynamically
produce the instruction sheet.

Oh, you want to use MySQL? Well then I'll add in these 7 steps. You
want multiple authors? Then I'll add in these 2 steps. Etc.

Would that work?

I would be remiss if I didn't suggest playing a wav file of Emeril's
"bam" when the final instruction sheet is rendered.

Matt Warden
Cincinnati, OH, USA

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