Report:PatBase/Customer Support/Online Help Features
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Online Help Features
PatBase offers two web-accessible help guides. An html user guide can be accessed at any time when using the system by clicking “help” from the floating menu bar, or by selecting a “?” icon appearing next to data fields from the search form. The help guide is updated to reflect system changes. The help guide is also keyword searchable, and important sections are accessible directly from the "help" drop-down menu in the floating toolbar.
A more detailed PDF user guide is available for download in the side menu under the "information" tab from the all pages except the search history page and the folder screen. It is a bit more detailed than the online help guide, and does include screenshots and a little more explanatory text. This user guide is periodically updated to reflect any major changes in the system. A quick reference guide is also available in the side menu under the "information" tab (accessible from all pages except the search history page and the folder screen) to help users gain some knowledge of tricks and shortcuts that can be used with the command language. In the same side menu with the manual and quick guide links, users can also access links to the coverage charts, user news, latest coverage updates, HTML help files (described above), PatBase helpdesk contact form, tutorial videos, and a webinar schedule.
The "information" tab on the side menu of the search history page contains "Command Reference" guides, including tables listing the field qualifiers for bibliographic data, field qualifiers for textual data, update commands, all available operators, and a list of navigation/shortcut commands. Search tools are also listed below these "Command Reference" links, including a dictionary, patent number format look-up, and thesaurus (see Other Features). Finally, a link to free webinars is available at the bottom of the page.
According to a PatBase representative, help files are also available in Japanese, Chinese, French, and German for PatBase Express only (if you switch to the relevant language interface).
The PatBase HTML help guide is rather short and doesn't include screenshots, but it does provide some practical examples and is updated to reflect system changes. The manual contains screenshots but no troubleshooting information. The "N.B." notes and bolded (or italicized/colored) text in both the HTML help guide and PDF manual offer some useful notes and tips on certain issues that may otherwise confuse or cause problems for the user. These materials could benefit through the addition of more troubleshooting advice, and pratical examples for the user. In addition, the help materials available for the system do not seem to have been extensively proofread, and users have spotted the occasional small error or misstatement.
Since 2009, a search option has been added to the help guide, making it more functional.
- ↑ Email correspondence with PatBase representative. Received December 20, 2011.