Help Desk Applications

Using Instant Text for Help Desk Systems

Instant Text is a system for very fast text-entry. Instant Text allows users to abbreviate almost everything they write and the resulting savings in keystrokes can reach 70% and more.

Advantages of Instant Text for Help Desks

There can be significant advantages in using this technology for help desk applications: Typically, help desk operators have to enter information in specialized data bases under the pressures of real-time. Very often, they end up writing cryptic notes that are thereafter difficult to exploit. Using the Instant Text technology has the advantage of allowing free-form text to be entered for problem descriptions and resolutions.

Why shorthand systems have not been used so far

While the idea of using computer keyboard shorthand is quite old, shorthand systems have not been much used so far for help desk applications. This can be explained by two major limitations of prior abbreviation systems:

Glossary Creation Was Taking Time
The first step in the use of any abbreviation system is the constitution of a glossary containing words and phrases together with shorthand codes. This is a time-consuming operation and the consequence is that most users settle for small glossaries.

Memorizing Shorthand Codes Was Difficult
Most users find it very difficult to remember shorthand codes. Average users remain under a hundred entries and even specialized users rarely go beyond a few hundred entries.

Instant Text overcomes both limitations:

Instant Text Offers Automatic Glossary Creation
Instant Text automatically compiles glossaries from existing document files. This compilation proceeds very fast on current desktop computers, taking less than a minute for a large collection of document files. The fact that this is an easy process means that glossaries with several thousand entries can be constructed very fast. It also means that creation of multiple glossaries specialized by subject becomes feasible in practice.

In a help desk application context, glossaries can be compiled for each of the windows where help desk operators enter text: one glossary by subject.

Instant Text Requires No Memorization
Instant Text is the first abbreviation system that does not require learning and memorizing predefined shorthand codes. With Instant Text, users formulate abbreviations on-the-fly - as they type - using a subset approach:

For a word such as straightforward
    subsets of the letters such as sfwd sfow sttw sfod
For a phrase such as I am looking forward to
    subsets of the initials letters such as ialf iaft iaf ialft

So with Instant Text, help desk operators do not have to memorize any shorthand codes. They will only use their knowledge of the subject. Which subset they decide to use is not predefined and no consistency is required. The mental process when using Instant Text is along the following lines:

 I know this phrase is part of the jargon... said all the time,
 So it will undoubtedly be in the current glossary,
 Hence typing some subset of the initial letters is enough.

As letters are typed, Instant Text displays possible interpretations in advisory windows and when the desired phrase appears it can be selected with a single keystroke.

Removing the need to memorize codes has an important consequence: It becomes possible to use thousands of abbreviations, abbreviating almost everything...

Continuations that finish your phrases for you...

Instant Text continuation are a final bonus that results from having produced glossaries by a compilation of existing document files. Once a phrase is started (whether it is entered in full or abbreviated), Instant Text is frequently in a position to predict what may come after - the likely continuations. This capability works very well in professional texts and the systematic use of continuations explains the unusually high levels of keystrokes savings - sometimes as high as 80%.

Starting to use Instant Text is gradual. Operators may start by typing everything in full. But after seing continuations appear in advisories, the temptation will be strong to use them.

Using Instant Text for a Help Desk Application

The standard Instant Text product works with Windows applications such as word processors, e-mail programs, spreadsheets, and data-bases. For a help desk application, the adaptation involves a few steps:

Compiling glossaries for the main subjects of the application.
Having several glossaries - one per subject, or possibly by text box - has the advantage of providing smaller glossaries allowing shorter codes to be typed. This compilation process can be repeated when the application evolves and does not require modification of the application code itself.

Defining Current Glossaries:
Using the Instant Text API, you can program which glossary to use as the current glossary for each of the text boxes used in the help desk application.

Using the Instant Text API to control Instant Text:
Starting or ending it, displaying or hiding the Instant Text advisories, controlling the number of advisory lines displayed. See: The API for Instant Text.