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Tips for Novices
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[Please read the three-page explanation if you haven't already.]

Don't give up if it takes you a minute or two to get started - within ten minutes, you'll be blazing along. It's a lot like driving a car. You should start by driving cautiously. If you can't tell where you are going, stop going. Indeed, you will probably learn Dasher faster if you come to it with car-driving analogies in mind, rather than standard computer analogies. For example, the way navigation works is not by DRAGGING but by STEERING: if cars worked like windows computers, you would have to "grab" the piece of road you want, then "drag" it towards you; but in a car, when you wish to drive right, you POINT RIGHT with your steering wheel. Dasher does not work by dragging either. Do not try to grab things and drag them. Just decide where you want to go, and point there.

The single most important concept that a novice user needs to understand is that one should always continue inside the text written so far: to select the book that contains "all" as its first word, one does not enter the "a" section of the library, then exit the "a" section, and enter the "l" section. One enters the "a" section, then finds the "al" section that is within the "a" section, then enters the "all" section within the "al" section.

It's just like finding a name in a phonebook. To find "Alison", you don't go to the "A" section of the phonebook, then the "L" section: you go into the "A" section, then find within it the "Al" section, and so forth.

The second most important idea is that what you have written depends only on where you finally end up in the library, not on how you got there; so there is no need to steer accurately on your way to your destination. You are allowed to cut corners. (For example, in the top image on the demonstration page, if you wanted to write `objects_are', it would be fine to move the mouse straight towards the letters `are', even if this takes the mouse across the unwanted grey `i' square.)

Two More Tips | tips for pocket PC users |

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and by a partnership award from IBM Zurich Research Laboratory
David MacKay
Site last modified Wed Jul 23 01:35:20 BST 2003