How can we improve the way Pencil2D offers help?

I had a great idea a week ago. I still think it’s great, but it could be argued that it is not such a good idea. It’s about having direct links to tutorials, from the software. Look at the video, and let’s discuss it.

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I think it’s an interesting idea, but I think we can go even further than that. What you’ve shown is still quite disconnected from the rest of the program. For example, instead of a “Tutorials → Changing Preferences” menu entry, I imagine it would be even more helpful to put a Help button right into the preferences dialog. This would apply not just to the preferences but also most of the other examples from your video. Plus, it would of course be even better if, instead of just linking to external resources, we could find ways to bake at least some of the help right into the program itself, like status tips or the tool explanations from my statusbar PR for example. I suppose it might also be a good idea to choose something else for discoverability as well, like a “tip of the day” dialog:

This is a lot harder to miss than a menu entry.

(However, we should probably still consider other UI improvements first before we resort to that)

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Going with David’s suggestion for starters we could prepare specific video tutorials for those little sections, similar to what was done for the release highlights; just specific videos on how to use each tool.

If I could get my way with this though I’d also like to have interactive tutorials similar to those of premiere, for a quick look on that take a look at this 2 minute video around the 1:00 minute mark

Having these interactive built-in tutorials would help discoverability of features in a practical manner IMO. Of course that is not a replacement for improving the UI design to really highlight every feature in a predictable manner, but still would be interesting to have at some point :slightly_smiling_face:

Regarding J5lx’s suggestion, I have found not many people read those tips of the day unless they are already familiar with the application and have certainly useful tips you can make out at a glance. It’s the same problem of the “new file save experience” where you get a popup asking you to save. People tend to ignore it and jump straight into the action, so we also might need to make them eye catching :sweat_smile:

Since most people want to actively do and learn things hey need instead of random topics without motivation, this is primarily why I think a built in interactive tutorial could be more engaging for novice learners. Perhaps even having some kind of “First Time Startup Experience” behavior could also help for new users.

If you saw the premiere video, it doesn’t have to be anything complicated, loading sample files to guide people through the tutorial, have a few pop ups and instruction screens with graphics or animated gif’s, maybe we could even use vector animation made in Pencil2D or other animation software like synfig (due to LOTTIE export) to cut down the size of the motion graphics.

I don’t think that having an additional menu item would be that helpful, since all those users who ask us the most basic of questions would have typically have found their answers if they had looked through all the menu items. My personal vision for how this issue should be addressed is basically the same as what @JoseMoreno has already said: a guided tour of sorts when getting started. On top of that, some embedded way of triggering a help page for any item. For example, if you needed help understanding the camera layer, you’d press some Help shortcut or menu item, then click the camera layer, and then it would show a bunch of information on everything you can do with the camera layer. Maybe as text, or as links to videos, or both.

Thank for your ideas and suggestion. It feels like we all think that help in Pencil2D could need improvement, and my suggestion was based on the idea that @JoseMoreno (and maybe I) could make these videos, since we are the less skilled programmers. And it could be developed over time.

I agree with you @scribblemaniac , that the videos can’t stand alone, but could be a supplement.

About the ‘Tip of the day’ @J5lx , I must say that I’m not a fan. I always turn them of. That said, I think we should take the best from the idea behind ‘Tip of the day’, and give short, informative guidelines from a widget like that.

If I try to sum up from your input, I end up with something like this:

Right now, you get an old .pdf cheatsheet, if you press F1. I think we should have a help widget like above.

The first column shows help to current tool and current Layer type, where you can scroll through the good advice we have written.

The Second column is for the other elements af the software, and should be updated accordingly when you press another dock.

In the last coulumn we link to the interactive, guided tours. I have no idea how they are done, but hopefully some of you know.

At the top there is a single menu entry, where there are access to the before mentioned short tutorials. This is just ideas and a hasty design. Am I getting closer?

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I feel like it’s still a bit too disconnected from the rest of the program. IMO we should integrate the help more with the rest of the progam, like putting little “?“ buttons near the various areas of the program or by making use of something like the QWhatsThis feature (Of course, in the latter case, we would need to introduce that feature when the program is started for the first time or something). It’s also not quite what I associate with “guided tours” – that means something more interactive to me, like this. Lastly, a single entry for tutorials leading to some sort of overview page (rather than a full menu with each individual tutorial) would be enough IMO. That would also make it easier to improve and expand on the tutorials post-release.

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