RE: Interface vs. Documentation

Subject: RE: Interface vs. Documentation
From: dan roberts <droberts63 -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: Christine Pellar-Kosbar <chrispk -at- merit -dot- edu>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2000 11:58:12 -0500 (EST)

hrm ... I just installed a product, apparently properly, and opened it up to get a blank screen. I think I'd be pretty darn lost.

I felt the same way with old WordPerfect and its lack of any sort of immediately visible UI--nothing but a blank screen.

Even menu and tool bars aren't always a good indication of where ya need to start to get things done, but it's a bigger help than a blank screen.

------Original Message------
From: Christine Pellar-Kosbar <chrispk -at- merit -dot- edu>

A friend of
mine has recently been asked by management for his thoughts on what the next
priorities should be for documentation. His thoughts are that the
documentation would be far more useful if the product had a useful interface.
Currently, the product he documents cannot be configured without prior
knowledge of the product, sample configurations taken from training or a
friend, or the documentation. Once you install this product, you get a
confirmation and then a blank screen. You type in the commands, options and
variables from memory or notes, much like you would type a program. At each
line, you have several, sometimes hundreds, of options.

My friend feels there should be some assistance to the user, if not menus and
prompts, something that is quicker than searching through the documentation --
some sort of context-sensitive help.

Now, the audience is of mixed background knowledge, but most are experienced
programmers. The management wonders if experienced programmers would want this
sort of assistance. After all, the management reasons, they are used to

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