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Intelligent Help for Information Systems Users

Objective

The aim of EUROHELP was to find ways of helping information system users to make optimal use of the functions of information systems. The findings have been implemented operationally in the form of a prototype HELP system to provide guidelines, instructio ns and explanations in response to user requests for information system facilities. Intelligent computer-based assistance can be provided from the terminal while the system is in use, with the advice tailored to individual needs from knowledge of the use each has made. Among the trial implementations is a HELP system for UNIX-Mail.
EUROHELP is a help system development system (HSDS) consisting of 3 components:
an intelligent help system shell (IHSS);
a set of tools enabling the development of an application model in an efficient and controlled manner, and allowing the shell to be refitted to certain hardware dependencies;
a description of the usage of the above tools including a software design philosophy for applications with intelligent help.
The HSDS is a collection of tools primarly concerned with the construction of application models, and currently exists in prototypical form. A second generation of HSDS tools is now being designed and implemented.

The aim was to find ways of helping information system users to make optimal use of the functions of information systems. The findings have been implemented operationally in the form of a prototype HELP system to provide guidelines, instructions and explanations in response to user requests for information system facilities. Intelligent computer based assistance can be provided from the terminal while the system is in use, with the advice tailored to individual needs from knowledge of the use each has made. Among the trial implementations is a HELP system for UNIX mail. The project defined a conceptual model for intelligent help systems (IHSS) which can be used as a framework for all further research in this area, and has also produced the following results: Firstly, an IHSS implemented on a Unix, common Lisp and X11 software platform, which embodies many of the research ideas generated by the project. Secondly, a detailed application model definition report. Thirdly, an integrated set of help system development system (HSDS) tools implented on a Unix, Common Lisp and X11 software platform, driven by a metamodel generated directly from the application model definition report. Lastly, a methodology to guide developers in the construction of application models.
The project defined a conceptual model for Intelligent Help Systems which can be used as a framework for all further research in this area, and has also produced the following four results:
-an IHSS implemented on a Unix, Common Lisp and X11 software platform, which embodies many of the research ideas generated by the project
-a detailed Application Model Definition report
-an integrated set of HSDS tools implemented on a Unix, Common Lisp and X11 software platform, driven by a meta-model generated directly from the Application Model Definition report.
-a methodology to guide developers in the construction of application models.
Exploitation
The Intelligent Help System Shell has been implemented and ported to a target environment. Demonstrations and the final review took place in July 1990.
CRI and ICL have internal exploitation plans aimed at the reuse of the components of EUROHELP in product lines.
The university partners will be incorporating the results in research projects and using them in teaching.
The final report is available as a book.

Coordinator

UNIVERSITEIT VAN AMSTERDAM
Address
Spui 21

Netherlands

Participants (3)

COURSEWARE EUROPE BV
Netherlands
Address
Westzijde
1506 GM Zaandam
International Computers Ltd (ICL)
United Kingdom
Address
Wenlock Way West Gorton
M12 5DR Manchester
University of Leeds
United Kingdom
Address
Woodhouse Lane
LS2 9JT Leeds