Re: Minimalist or low-level?

Subject: Re: Minimalist or low-level?
From: Brad Jensen <brad -at- elstore -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 5 Mar 2002 09:34:21 -0600

----- Original Message -----
From: "Steve Hudson" <cruddy -at- optushome -dot- com -dot- au>
To: "Brad Jensen" <brad -at- elstore -dot- com>; "TECHWR-L"
<techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Sent: Tuesday, March 05, 2002 5:26 AM
Subject: RE: Minimalist or low-level?

> > I guess no one uses print docs anymore, but if you are scattering
> hyperlinks
> all over the place they had beeter be meaningful.
> PDF is very common Brad. Most hyperlinks I see and use go something like
> "For more information on <plucking a chicken>, see {page <53>}. Is this
> 'meaningful' when provided in context?

Theproblem is knowing what to look for. In the case of the electronic
document, the whys need to be scattered all over among the hows.

> > Poor documentation is defined as saying something one time in one way in
> one
> place.
> If that's your opinion, you're welcome to it. Unfortunately it flies in
> face of many modern techniques. Old-school is say it a hundred times, each
> time differently. New school is say everything the same way and kill
> redundancies. Quite frankly, I cut a 300+ page manual down to <150 pages
> increased its information content by following the opposite of your

I suppose if you print manuals that is an achievement. If they are
electronic, it's a tragedy.

> > Most docs these days are searched help-file style
> Lets change that to read "most online docs". Even then - have you heard of
> an index? I use them regularly. Now if we narrow the search results to
> over 50 pages in size... ahhh... indexes. Let alone the online paradigm,
> search does not beat a good navigation system.

For most users, search is the navigation system.

> > As a user, I have never found myself annoyed by too much explanation.
> is particularly true of subjects requiring technical documentation.
> Goodness me - try getting some real help out of MS Word's F1 system. Too
> much explanation and no details.

Not enough explanation if you are using it to do something new.

> > Really what should be done is to charge all tech support calls back to
> tech writers budget. It isn't just that the tech calls cost money, it's
> each one is a failure of the product.
> Now this is silly. To take a maxima, lets say le softy team developed a
> scrappy product. You documented it as scrappy. Yet people are contacting
> tech support to make it less scrappy (eg - 90% of MS Word's feedback
> How do you possibly believe this is the poor writer's fault?

The point is, if your measure of value is internal to the document, such as
completeness or structure, the document is not optimized. There must be an
external measure, or you are just entertaining yourself.

> You send one weird message ole boy.

It's the way the bytes flip over when the cross the equator.

> Steve Hudson - Word Heretic, Sydney, Australia
> HDK List MVP
> For Questions regarding MS-Word please use the MS news servers or a
> list in preference to heretic -at- tdfa -dot- com -dot- Ideally, post to
> and send me an email to go answer it.

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RE: Minimalist or low-level?: From: Steve Hudson

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