Re: Manuals on CE-ROM

Subject: Re: Manuals on CE-ROM
From: Stan Potts <POTTS_STAN -at- TANDEM -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 2 Dec 1993 14:00:00 -0800

Here at Tandem we've been distributing manuals on CD ROM for several years and
our most recent survey indicates that 85% of our customers buy their
documenatation in CD ROM format rather than hard copy. In another recent
customer survey, by far the largest areas of concern for customers is the
search/navigation capabilities of the viewer and the screen readability. The
viewer we're currently using hasn't kept pace with the latest developments in
these areas and we looking into alternatives.

My contacts at Sun tell me that 80% of their customers buy their docs on
CD ROM. Sun's homegrown tool, Answerbook is among the best of the postscript
based viewers I've seen and it has an extremely robust search engine that
makes finding what you need within their 15,000 page doc set quite easy once
you learn its many nuances. Verity also makes a very robust search engine that
several vendors are planning to incorporate into their procducts, among them
are Adobe (Acrobat) and Frame (FrameReader and FrameViewer).

As far as SGML viewers are concerned, Novell and Silicon Graphics are using
FrameMaker as their authoring tool, running the files through an SGML tagging
filter (I believe they use Avalanche's Fast Tag) and they both are currently
using EBT's Dynatext as their viewer.

Stan Potts
potts_stan -at- tandem -dot- com

------------ ORIGINAL ATTACHMENT --------
SENT 12-02-93 FROM SMTPGATE (awilson -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com)

Although I haven't professionally dealt with putting info on CD-ROM yet, I did
encounter some stories like this while interviewing. The manager of one very
large company (not the one that hired me) told me that last year they released
a CD-ROM containing the complete documentation for the computer system
they sold--some 20,000 pages worth of documentation. They, too, thought
that navigation tools were a secondary concern.

Well, while the customers were initially enthusiastic about the storage space
they saved, they soon found the CD-ROMS to practically worthless. If they
wanted to access the last section of one of the books, they had to scroll
through hundreds of pages of material they *didn't* want to see. Searching
for a specific topic was a time-consuming nightmare, since the indexes
were at the back of each "book," and the person looking for the information
did not necessarily know which "book" to look at.

Of course, the customers all requested copies of the hardcopy documentation.

You might want to pass that horro story on to your marketing dept.

Anatole Wilson "If I should say to a novice,
Sr. Assoc. Information Developer 'write from experience only,'
IBM, Santa Teresa Labs I should feel that this was
awilson -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com rather a tantalizing monition
if I were not careful to add,
'try to be one of the people
on whom nothing is lost.'"
all company disclaimers apply --Henry James

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