Re: Real World Advantages of Office / Word 2007 and Windows 7

Subject: Re: Real World Advantages of Office / Word 2007 and Windows 7
From: "William Sherman" <bsherman77 -at- embarqmail -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 8 May 2012 21:50:59 -0400

In one particular case I am thinking of, several software engineers wanted to keep the systems operation manual up to date as they felt the tech writers didn't understand the system software. Small wonder, when I got there, we were not allowed to turn it on or run it. I never got to see it in operation from start up, operation, and shut down. I got to see bits and pieces at various times because I was constantly going into the lab, but how was I to ever know how it work?

The problem is that on their computers, some had Word set to automatically update styles and formats. When they would manually number, they would affect the numbering in other sections. When they would bold a section for emphasis, they would impact other sections. There must have been 20 "Normal" styles in that document, not to mention a dozen list styles and so on. Headings? There wasn't H1, H2, H3, H4, there were a dozen. H1, H1bold, H1centered, H1italic,Heading 1, Heading1, Heading 1 Centered, etc.

I don't know how long they had been putting pieces in, but I had to bail them out occasionally when they would scramble it all. I told my boss I refused to ever work on that manual other than to stop and help them with a single problem, and if he insisted on bringing it back into our fold, he needed to set aside 6 months to fix it.

There would be things like a procedure on page 203 that went:

Paragraph
1.
2.
a.
b.
3.
4.
5.


And then on page 473, you would have another list.

Paragraph
1.
2.
3.
4.
a.
b.
5.

If they added two lines in on page 473 between step 3 and 4, instead of it going

Paragraph
1.
2.
3.
4.
a.
b.
5.


It would go

Paragraph
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
4.
a.
b.
5.

Because the steps for 4 and 5 were tied in sequence to page 203 and not to the procedure on 473.

The solution was to cut and paste into Notepad, then cut and paste in Word and format again, right? Wrong. Now procedures on page 513 and 269 and 624 and who knows where else would scramble.

How they pulled some of this off, I still haven't figured out. The "solution", as wrong as it seems, was to manually put in numbers so that they didn't connect to anything. You have to remember these things were usually found 2 days before shipping, as the software engineers held this until the last possible day to include the latest and greatest code changes, and there was no time to fix it right.

And numbered lists weren't the only styles connected and messed up like this.






----- Original Message ----- From: "Gene Kim-Eng" <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Sent: Tuesday, May 08, 2012 2:04 PM
Subject: Re: Real World Advantages of Office / Word 2007 and Windows 7


I may just be lucky, but I've encountered very few engineers or developers
who thought they could use Word or any other document authoring tool as
well as a technical writer AND liked to do it. I've definitely never met
one any actually WANTED to do the technical writer's job on top of their
own. But I've met enough of them who could do it if they had to that I
know better than to complain about my tools when I talk to them.

And as far as the "SPACESPACE instead of styles" method of document
formatting goes, I'd rather have engineers and developers use that method
in the content they generate for me than attempt to apply styles. In fact,
I'd be happy if everyone who ever wanted to send me anythint to insert into
a document just sent me a plain text file.

Gene Kim-Eng



On Tue, May 8, 2012 at 9:56 AM, William Sherman
<bsherman77 -at- embarqmail -dot- com>wrote:

It may be unfair to blame Word, but it isn't unfair to blame Microsoft.
Microsoft has marketed Word as a tool EVERYONE can use and designs it so
that in 5 minutes, even people with very little computer skills can produce
a page that looks somewhat professional. It is similar to how the '80s with
Macintosh and MacWrite did.

As such, almost every engineer and programmer think they are capable of
using Word as well as us, and their managers back them.

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with Doc-To-Help. Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need.

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Real World Advantages of Office / Word 2007 and Windows 7: From: William Sherman
Re: Real World Advantages of Office / Word 2007 and Windows 7: From: William Sherman
RE: Real World Advantages of Office / Word 2007 and Windows 7: From: Coe, David E
RE: Real World Advantages of Office / Word 2007 and Windows 7: From: Ben Davies
Re: Real World Advantages of Office / Word 2007 and Windows 7: From: Phil Snow Leopard
Re: Real World Advantages of Office / Word 2007 and Windows 7: From: William Sherman
Re: Real World Advantages of Office / Word 2007 and Windows 7: From: Gene Kim-Eng

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