Adobe eLearning suite documentation failure?

Subject: Adobe eLearning suite documentation failure?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L Writing <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Gregory P Sweet <gps03 -at- health -dot- state -dot- ny -dot- us>
Date: Mon, 15 Jun 2009 16:44:48 -0400

Gregory Sweet reports: <<OK, so I get that it's not in vogue to
include manual with software anymore, but Adobe's really dropping the
ball. I just upgraded to eLearning Suite which contains a plethora of
CS4 products (Captivate, Acrobat, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, etc.() and
the more I get into it the more disappointed I become. Now, I am the
type that wants a paper manual. I read them, Cover to cover, and I
really think my productivity is better because I do.>>

I'm with you (I want a book), and frankly, it strikes me as an
astonishingly stupid choice even for a big company. For a product like
Creative Suite, there are probably thousands of third-party books
being sold, at a significant profit per book. Were it me running Adobe
(purely as practice for ruling the world some day), I'd create an
award-winning print-on-demand version of their manuals* (i.e., so
there are no up-front printing costs), and include a coupon for $10 to
$20 off the cost of that book so people could buy printed
documentation if they wanted to do so. Then I'd trumpet how "green"
Adobe is by reducing printing costs without forcing people to
sacrifice their beloved printed manuals, all the while banking the

* After all, it's not like the "classroom in a book" model is foreign
to Adobe. And it's not like documentation isn't already a sunk cost.
If you're doing all that work creating the online help and the PDF,
why not profit from it?

Better still, I'd add the $5 cost of printing a decent manual to the
product's cost, at the usual 1200% markup (for a total price increase
of about 0.1% -- insignificant to Adobe's captive audience), and use
the profits to pay for the full cost of developing documentation for
the product. Invent your own numbers and do the math -- it's easy and

<<In this case the help files seem to be the only manuals so I decided
to grab the PDF copies and print my own. No biggie, I get how it saves
costs and paper>>

Only if everyone in the audience has a duplex printer. If not, it
doubles paper consumption. This is what economists call an
"externality"; that is, Adobe saves a ton of money and gets rich doing
so, and everyone else pays the price. Not that there's anything wrong
with capitalism; after all, it brought you the current economic
crisis. (Before you light up the flamethrowers... just kiddin', guys.
Take a chill pill!)

<< — but for crying out loud as the maker of the market-leading
document single-source software, and actually having a product called
the technical communication suite, paginate for output! I don't want
something that looks like I printed the help file>>

That would require two big assumptions: (1) Someone's going to
actually read it. (2) Someone's going to actually burn out their
printer printing it instead of waltzing down to Barnes and Noble and
buying "CS4 for people who are too smart to print our PDF file".

Geoff Hart (
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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Adobe eLearning suite documentation failure: From: Gregory P Sweet

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