Re: too big bother

Chris Brand

Hi Aaron

I have similar (but not that complex) windows to describe, plus the use cases that come along. When I have set up my documentation concept in the beginning, I also thought about numbered callouts and a reference table. But then I decided against it, as I have to redo the screenshots (tons...) every half year or so and messing with the callouts every time I didn't like.

After some thoughts I came up with this:

  • I "translated" the whole UI into keys. So, each button, tab, title, table, checkbox, etc. got a key with its text.
  • In my "User Guide", I placed the window screenshots in separate "Functional Description" chapters.
  • Below the screenshots I listed and described all the UI elements a user can interact with in tabular form.
  • In the "Use" chapter, I then described the different use cases as tasks and placed a link back to the "Functional Description" chapter.

Separating how something works from procedures is what you should aim for. In a functional description you can describe everything to the last detail, where as in a task, only focus on the important bits.

See the two attached screenshots. Hope it helps.


Am 12.03.21 um 18:34 schrieb Aaron Mehl via

The reason I didn't go for numbered call outs with a table is because throughout the rest of the document my graphics have call outs (arrows and text boxes) and doing this for one or two windows would be inconsistent. But you are right I may have no other choice. I just had a thought, what if I made every section of the window a different task. I could then put a graphic with call outs for only that task. Hmn...

On Friday, March 12, 2021, 10:41:01 AM EST, Melissa Kershes <sarala557@...> wrote:

Hi Aaron.


The overall goal in this window (I suppose) is to “Edit a scheduled transaction” There are a few ways you can simplify this.

  1. Only document one way of using a control. Most windows users already know that there are multiple ways to do things based on standard controls. Use the most common path to enter the data.
  2. If you want to group things do it by section. So first describe the schedule name box etc. then move onto the Payment Information box.
  3. If you want to do a call out for controls with no label, number the image and then do the call outs in a table below. This will clean the interface of the image and allow for easier translation if that happens. DO NOT use call outs for controls that have labels. The users can read the label.


All of this together should significantly shorten your topic.




From: <> On Behalf Of Aaron Mehl via
Sent: Friday, March 12, 2021 10:30 AM
To: DITA Users Group Moderators <>
Subject: [dita-users] too big bother


Hi all,

I am just not sure how to author in Dita, large windows in the interface. The rule is for tasks to keep them short. This would mean breaking procedures into separate tasks. The problem I have is that I have some very busy windows in the interface I'm authoring and I would like to keep things in one place if at all possible. That said, I will give an example of a very busy window. I started adding call outs to the graphic, but stopped, since in my opinion it is just way to busy. 

The Dita task doesn't even come close to giving procedural steps for all the parts of the window. I want to K.I.S.S but I am not sure what to do. Maybe a table??

Any help/ideas would be most appreciated,



So here is an example:


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

<!DOCTYPE task PUBLIC "-//OASIS//DTD DITA Task//EN" "task.dtd">

<task id="payment_information">

  <title>Payment Information</title>


    <draft-comment author="aaron">This has to be totally redone and then the graphic with call outs

      needs adding (scheduleNew.png)</draft-comment>



    <context>To schedule a salary deposit transaction:</context>



        <cmd>Click on <uicontrol>Deposit</uicontrol> in the <uicontrol>Payment

            information</uicontrol> slider. </cmd>



        <cmd>Choose <term>Direct Deposit </term>as the payment method, from the drop down

          list. </cmd>

        <substeps id="substeps_yv4_nm3_d4b">


            <cmd>In the <uicontrol>Account</uicontrol> combo box, choose the account to deposit your

              salary in.</cmd>



            <cmd>From the <uicontrol>Pay to/from</uicontrol> drop down list choose

                <uicontrol>From</uicontrol>, if it isn't already selected.</cmd>



            <cmd>Type <term>Job</term> in the <uicontrol>payto/from name</uicontrol>field.</cmd>

            <info>If job is already listed, go to the <uicontrol>category</uicontrol> combo box,




            <cmd> A dialog box opens asking if you want to add this




            <cmd> Click <term>Yes</term>.</cmd>

            <stepresult>The new payee job is added to list of payees.</stepresult>





        <cmd>Choose <term>Salary</term> in <uicontrol>Category</uicontrol> list.</cmd>




        <cmd>Enter the date you get paid in <uicontrol>Next due date</uicontrol> field, either: </cmd>


          <choice>Type the date.</choice>

          <choice>Use the up and down arrows to select the date.</choice>

          <choice>Click on the calendar icon and select the date.</choice>




        <cmd>Enter the amount you get paid in the <uicontrol>Amount</uicontrol> field, either:</cmd>


          <choice>Type in the amount</choice>

          <choice>Click on the calculator icon and enter the amount. </choice>







Then here is the graphic as an attachment:


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