RE: Graphics for hardware instructions

Subject: RE: Graphics for hardware instructions
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: Robert Lauriston <robert -at- lauriston -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 2009 16:46:31 -0500

When I asked about getting a pro illustrator to make 3D reworkable illustrations of our products in action, Robert Lauriston asked:

> Why would a user need that?

Need? They don't "need" it. They can figure it out. Just like they don't need the rest of my docs.

But I like to provide a pictorial checklist of "this is what you should have received", followed by a pictorial "here's how to use our optional rack-mounting hardware to install it in some types of rack, and here's how (and where) to connect these mandatory cables and these optional ones, and then press this switch and watch for this LED to...

> Why not just take photos of the equipment
> or repurpose the existing engineering drawings as required?

I do take photos of the equipment... when pre-prod units are available... usually at the busiest time of the doc cycle... right near the end... you know, when there's no wiggle-room left in the schedule.

I'm not happy with the result or the process. We don't have a "studio" at this office, nor any photo equipment. So I:

- bring in my own camera (I don't even have a diffuser or bounce-flash for it, but it's better than the ancient thing the guys in the hardware lab use),

- spread photocopy paper all over a conference table for a "white" background,

- take some photos, then spend hours cleaning them up with GIMP or something limited but slightly friendlier like Paint.Net.

Engineering drawings come here as PDFs from the company that designs the boxes/chassis or the other company that makes the circuit boards. Oh, goody, I get to clean all the dimensions and other crud off a plan view or an elevation view and use that instead of an elegant, purposeful, illustrative perspective vector drawing, or a professionally done action photo?

Time was, I had time to use a vector-draw program to make my own drawings. They weren't rotatable, of course, so I had to redraw any different views I wanted. But I just don't have that luxury any more. Multiple projects mean multiple overlapping doc schedules, and there's exactly one of me.

Back in the day, we had an in-house hardware design group that worked in Pro-E. When they finished a new appliance, it was a databased 3-dimensional, complex object. Pro-E generated the usual engineering flat diagrams with dimensioning and all the parts info, but it could also generate 3D outline or rendered views from any angle, with specified light sources. The engineers had no use for that function, but they'd do it for me if I asked and they weren't too busy. But even better, there was a web-client Pro-Eng thingie that I could use to access a saved project and manipulate and render for myself. It looked a little cartoonish if I applied surfaces (they were uncomplicated single shade or two-color fade/blend at best), but the shapes were accurate, it was simple, clearer than photos (no extraneous detail or confusing shadows) and almost infinitely position-/rotation-adjustable.

BUT, that functionality required a server-side app at the database. We don't have in-house mechanical design any more. Even the hardware-design service that we sometimes contract, that does use Pro-E, doesn't have that web-output thingie, and my bosses aren't about to buy it for them and persuade them to give me access through their firewall, just so I can connect and play with drawings for a day-or-so every couple of months. Besides, I think the other main supplier uses a different CAD system.

I thought of having a professional draw something 3D exterior-ish and leave me with the source files. I'd have a guaranteed good-looking starting point, and be able to do my own tweaking as the need arose.

Just a thought.

By the way, I've never received a product, consumer or biz/techy that came with engineering drawings as the illustrations. We must move in different circles and buy at different places.

- Kevin

The information contained in this electronic mail transmission
may be privileged and confidential, and therefore, protected
from disclosure. If you have received this communication in
error, please notify us immediately by replying to this
message and deleting it from your computer without copying
or disclosing it.


Are you looking for one documentation tool that does it all? Author,
build, test, and publish your Help files with just one easy-to-use tool.
Try the latest Doc-To-Help 2009 v3 risk-free for 30-days at:

Help & Manual 5: The all-in-one help authoring tool. Easy to use
but still has all the power you need. Get results fast in an intuitive
authoring environment that works like a familiar word processor.

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Please move off-topic discussions to the Chat list, at:


Graphics for hardware instructions: From: McLauchlan, Kevin
Re: Graphics for hardware instructions: From: Robert Lauriston

Previous by Author: Graphics for hardware instructions
Next by Author: RE: Graphics for hardware instructions
Previous by Thread: Re: Graphics for hardware instructions
Next by Thread: Re: Graphics for hardware instructions

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads