Re: worth of documentation

Subject: Re: worth of documentation
From: Karla McMaster <mcmaster%pcmail -dot- cti-pet -dot- com -at- CTI-PET -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 1994 08:54:08 EST

On March 17, Anatole Wilson wrote:
> - Company manuals don't include "secret tips." The authors of external
> books take the time to use the program extensively and to talk to
> other users to find the shortcuts that company documenters simply
> don't have the time to research or try out. I noticed that the
> latest version of QUICKEN comes with a booklet of "secret tips."
> Naturally, I read this much smaller book before I even considered
> tackling the manuals.

I agree 100%. I, too, was impressed by the QUICKEN secret tips book. It
referenced many new features that I can check out in the future, using the
reference manual for "how-to"s. I wouldn't even have known about these features
(as I would never have waded through the entire reference manual set) without
this 'quick reference.'

I have been toying with the idea of trying to produce such a reference when our
next software version comes out. Of course, it will have to wait until the
product has already gone out the door. In addition to limited time and
resources (I'm it when it comes to documentation--no other writers/editors), I
get limited exposure to users who could pass this information on to me. I do
have access to the software. But it is meant to be used in a clinical setting,
and I have no way of repeating that, here in the factory. In an ideal world, I
would be a part of the beta testing team. Usually, one or two people go out to
each beta test site, install the software, and do some training. I would think
that being a part of that would be an invaluable experience as far as seeing
what was taught, what concepts were difficult for users, and what would users
come up with for their tips for working with the software. Although currently
my documentation is "ready" and shipped with beta software, it is not really
tested. Well, perhaps I can sell myself for this next version. Wish me luck!

Karla McMaster, technical writer
CTI-PET Systems, Knoxville, TN
mcmaster -at- cti-pet -dot- com

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