Re: "I, User" (re numbering schemes)

Subject: Re: "I, User" (re numbering schemes)
From: Jim Grey <jwg -at- ACD4 -dot- ACD -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 1993 09:02:09 -0500

Bonni Graham had a lot to say:
>Interestingly enough, I have the oppostie reaction. I have a graphics
>program manual, with no bleeding chapter side-tabs (which BTW, I also
>worship as much as I worship anything), that numbers pages using the
>chapter method. It is very difficult to find the page I need on the
>first couple of hits.

The chapter-number scheme works best for me when the manual includes
chapter tabs. We don't tab our sections (in-house production woes), so
we sequentially number our sections. (As part of a compromise long ago,
we letter-number our appendices, as in A-7.)

>My point is, as always (and you can all sing along):

>Ask yourself, "What is the industry standard my users are used to?" In
>my last incarnation as a writer of library automation manuals, I used
>chapter numbering because that's how library standards books are produced
>-- i.e., they're mostly naive end users (in a computer-use sense), but
>they're already familiar with chaptered numbering.

>Clearly this is an issue with no one Shining Path to Truth. Again I say, what
>does your user expect?

Our customers are telephone companies (local and long distance), an electric
company, an airline reservation company, and two states. We sell a set of
abstract application-building components, meaning that customers in very
different businesses buy the same software from us for different uses. Each
customer has different expectations, and we can't meet them all, no matter
how much we want to or how loud they yell at us. When we created our
standards, we did those things that we felt would please most of our customers,
but otherwise chose standards (such as page numbering) we found effective,
and now use it everywhere. That way, when a customer has learned to use one
manual, he's learned how to navigate the rest of our manuals. It works for us.

By the way, what's the tune for "It Depends On The User"? :)

jim grey
jwg -at- acd4 -dot- acd -dot- com
Terre Haute, Indiana - The Silicon Cornfield

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