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Some designers of software systems have recognized the need for providing interactive assistance to the users of their systems. A variety of ad hoc approaches have been used to associate assistance with various aspects of these systems. Common problems with such approaches are inconsistent availability of assistance and inaccurate assistance. A technique is presented for integrating assistance information into the design and implementation of a software system. This technique guarantees consistency and accuracy of syntactic assistance and provides a framework for integral semantic assistance information. The technique for developing self-describing systems centers around a specification of the language with which a user interacts with the system. The language is processed to produce a parser as well as on-line assistance information, error messages, and hard copy user manuals. A method for presenting this user assistance is discussed, and examples of an implemented system are provided.