Educational -v- Informative Writing & Frame ?s

Subject: Educational -v- Informative Writing & Frame ?s
From: Fred Wersan <wersan -at- ZEUS -dot- MA30 -dot- BULL -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 3 Nov 1993 13:46:06 EST

ALUN W... asks: (and Beth Staats more or less also)
As a recent convert to FrameMaker on SUN, I found the statement
above to be an apt description of the *user* documentation that
came with this software.

Is this why there are so many questions here about what FrameMaker
can and cannot do?

Do you folks know about the Framers mailing list. It doesn't solve Frame doc
problems, but there are lots of experienced frame folks there. There is also
a bi-monthly publication called Framers Forum that has put out two issues.

It is no secret that apps like Frame have a steep learning curve. I came to
Frame from Interleaf, so most of the concepts were similar. That helped.

I don't have any major complaints about the doc set, except never knowing
which book (reference or using) to look at (not a problem on the PC, its all
one book). One thing that I have found helpful with this and other complex
programs is to re-read the manuals. I know that no one reads manuals, we're
all supposed to be able to know what to do without putting in any effort, but
it helps. You can only absorb so much at one time (whether in class, from a
friend or from the book), but each time I look through documentation, I pick
up something new because my knowledge base has broadened a bit since the last
time I looked through it. I am now ready to integrate another factoid into my
repertoire of skills.

We still have a way to go in creating documents that support different learning
styles. The gross divisions of tutorial vs. reference are not enough. You won`t
find something in a refernce manual unless you look for it (you still might not
find it, but that's a different issue), but how do you know that there isn't
something worth looking for, but you hadn't thought of it yet? My re-reading
habit speaks to this possibility.

While poor documentation is certainly cause for frustration, it is reassuring
to know that the industry will continue to need those of us who are spending
some time trying to figure out what good documentation is and how to write it.

This is starting to ramble, and since I don't have patience for others'
ramblings I'll leave further musing for the future.

Fred Wersan
Bull HN Informations Systems
300 Concord Rd.
Billerica, Mass. 01821
f -dot- wersan -at- bull -dot- com

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