Getting Rid of Things

Subject: Getting Rid of Things
From: Jim Grey <jwg -at- ACD4 -dot- ACD -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 30 Mar 1994 08:13:41 -0500

Len Olszewski sez:
>BTW, we are thinking of killing our "using this book" sections since we
>don't think anybody reads them, and we want to "downsize" our
>documentation. Anybody else doing this (i.e. - downsizing in general,
>burning your UTB or any other sections you don't think your customers
>really need...)?

>We streamlined our font usage a couple of years ago, and guess what?
>Nobody complained. I imagine that's because nobody noticed. I suspect
>the same story will repeat itself when the UTB's bite the dust. But I

We've removed the Table of Figures and Table of Tables from most of our
manuals. Who reads 'em, anyway? One particularly large manual has a
twenty page list of figures. Unfortunately, that manual describes a
product developed by this company's most anal-retentive development team,
and they screamed bloody murder about that list being pulled. This team
doesn't seem to like *any* change to the manual, except addition of new
features, *period*. The writer decided to put the list back to shut 'em up.
No customer or (other) internal user has said a *word*. Doubt they even
knew the lists were there in the first place.

All of our manuals used to contain, as Section Two, "User-System
Interaction", which included "User's Guide Conventions". This section was
almost boilerplate. We had a "master" Section Two, which the writer copied
into each manual and deleted paragraphs not relevant to the particular product.
Each product, for example, used only a subset of the possible keystrokes.
Eventually, the user-system interaction stuff had grown complex enough
that it warranted its own manual, and I created one for it. I proposed
we split that information out of the rest of the manuals, and the other
writer told me that it just wouldn't fly with her one a-r development group.
The separate user-system interaction manual exists, but removing that kind
of info from existing manuals is on hold. New manuals, though, are created
without it. I summarized the "User's Guide Conventions" info, called it
"How to Read This User's Guide", and moved it into a new and improved
Section One (retitled from "Introduction" (yawn) to "Read This First!")

Oh, Len, now you've gone and got me all excited about user doc projects,
when about all I've been doing for six months is fighting customer fires
and bailing out ailing requirements-writing projects. Somebody, please,
give me a manual to write! Aieeeeeeee!

jim grey |beebeebumbleandthestingersmottthehoopleraycharlessingers
jwg -at- acd4 -dot- acd -dot- com |lonniemackandtwangin'eddiehere'smyringwe'regoingsteadyta
|GO/M d p+ c++(-) l u+ e- m*@ s+/ n+ h f++ g- w+@ t+ r- y+(*)
|ACD, Terre Haute, IN -- The Silicon Cornfield

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