Re: Re[2]: paper vs online

Subject: Re: Re[2]: paper vs online
From: Jerry Blackerby 214-907-7810 <exujbl -at- EXU -dot- ERICSSON -dot- SE>
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1993 08:44:43 CST


I am Jerry Blackerby. I am currently employed at Ericsson Network
Systems in Richardson. Ericsson is a Swedish telecommunications
manufacturer with a division in the U.S. I have been writing technical
documentation for over 36 years.

The problem I have seen with online documentation is two-fold. Many
creators of online documentation create a book to be read online, which
does not work. Other creators of online documentation create something
that is easy to use online, but do not understand documenting a
product, therefore it is inadequate.

Those of us that understand documenting a product and what the user
needs must learn to create online documentation in a manner that will
meet the user's needs.

I created an online documentation system for a company in 1984 that
appeared to do the job. The extensive software system that I
documented was used for ordering, invoicing, billing, shipping, and
inventorying their products. The software consisted of many forms that
had to be filled in by the various users. I helped to tie online
documentation to the forms, similar to online help. When a user needed
to know what to put in a block, they clicked for help.

The first screen asked them if they wanted to read about the system or
needed specific help. If they wanted to read, they could scroll through
a table of contents or index and read anywhere in the documentation
they desired. If they needed specific help, the system jumped to
the specific help. It described what should go in the desired field
only. For some fields, it even listed legitimate values. It was
very similar to what is today called hypertext.

I recently found out that they are still using the system and the
company that bought them out has adapted the system to be used with
other systems of theirs.

We as technical communicators need to learn to grow with the technology
and not become stale. We will never do away with all paper, but
we can make life easier for software users by developing usable
online documentation.


|| Jerry Blackerby || | ~~ || Practice random kindness ||
|| 214-907-7810 (w) || \, _} || and senseless acts of ||
|| exujbl -at- exu -dot- ericsson -dot- se || \( || beauty. ||

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