RE: User documentation - drawings or photographs?

Subject: RE: User documentation - drawings or photographs?
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: "SB" <sylvia -dot- braunstein -at- gmail -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2008 15:39:06 -0500

I agree with the people who favored vector drawings, for the
many-and-varied reasons they specified. I'll expand my me-too as

A drawing is a drawing and it's obvious that it is meant to be
representational in terms of physical relationships, proportions,
In other words, as long as the important aspects are captured in the
drawing, that's all anybody cares.

BUT a photograph is a complete representation of the real thing. People
react to a photograph differently.
If you don't yet have a production version when you create your docs,
you pretty much have to go with a drawing.
For a photo to look professional, especially among other photos in the
same document, it must be of the same style - thus, either you must have
all the photos done by a competent photographer with the expensive
lighting equipment, the nice, seamless backgrounds, etc., or else you
must take your own photos and then Photoshop/GIMP them to match
lighting, remove shadows and variations of background, and so on.
Photos can easily become dated, when somebody decides to change the
silk-screening on the product, or change a component (even substituting
a different brand of connector, indicator, card-reader, etc. With all
the extraneous detail fully present in a photo, the person looking at it
- against the current version of the actual hardware - might wonder if
they received the right equipment, or if they're reading the
instructions for the right model. At our place, managers won't sign for
the purchase-from-inventory of a new $20,000 appliance just because the
cosmetic bits have changed.
It's easier to tweak a vector drawing than to acquire a clean-looking
sample of the current hardware and schedule a photoshoot.
Around here, when people receive equipment that they've fought for, the
first thing they do is slap labels, stickers, Sharpie indelible writing,
and other territorial markings to announce "This is mine; keep your paws
Not very photogenic.

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User documentation - drawings or photographs?: From: SB

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