UNIT 4 - ⇑ The Computing Practical Project ⇑

← System Maintenance User Manual Quality of Writing →

When you get a piece of new software they often give you a user guide on how to configure the program, run the main features and fix any errors. This is what we are doing here. Even if your program isn't as complicated as you would like, you can still get top marks here with relative ease. Don't leave this section to the last minute!

Title page


This should look like a real user manual that someone would get if they bought your program. It needs to be appropriate, for example, if your program was a game for training receptionists called "Jane's tame receptionist game" it should have pictures of the game or Jane and be set out professionally. It would not be suitable to have a picture of your face or a picture of your house on this page. Take a look at some manuals your teacher might have, or that you might have got, for example, with a mobile phone, be sensible!

Contents page


This should be a separate mini contents page just for your User Manual.

A brief introduction and installation instructions


Briefly explain what your program does and what it is for, a picture or two wouldn't do any harm.

This might 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 and using screen shots the steps required to install the product. If you have written your own installer (There is one built into VS2010 or you can use NSIS - Nullsoft Scriptable Install System) then show the individual steps, otherwise talk them through it step by step with screen shots. 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


Take the user through 3 highly detailed and complex tasks that your system can perform. Step by Step using screen shots to show what to do. For example:

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

DO NOT just screen shot each form and talk about what it does. What we require is a step by step guide to achieve something

Samples of actual screen displays


4 screen shots explaining the functionality of different parts of your system, using arrows and text boxes to describe. For example:

  • Your menu page
  • A page to edit users
  • your main game page showing the main components of your game

Samples of error messages and error recovery procedures

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 a simple to read error message, certainly not a computer generated memory dump! This section requires that you show at least 3 error situations then a step by step guide and 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
  • They die in a game
  • They get a question wrong
  • They try to load a file that doesn't exist