Some software types do use manuals

Subject: Some software types do use manuals
From: "BOB, ZKO3-4/CUBE 4X49" <pezzini -at- JARETH -dot- ENET -dot- DEC -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 30 Mar 1994 10:50:53 EST

Steve Fouts writes 3/17:

>He _likes_ the gray wall? When I had to use the gray wall I found it
>a bit formidable. Everything you wanted to know about VMS was in there
>SOMEWHERE, and if you had the time to find it, it was pretty well
>written. But if you wanted to know if there was a command to do X,
>you had better clear your calendar for the rest of the week so you
>could find out.

>AND, since the documentation set was so huge (they don't call it the
>gray wall for nothing) chances are pretty good that the site only had
>one copy of it. When you did figure out which volume the answer was
>likely to be in, you'd find that it was checked out to an engineer
>three flights up who'd had it for a week and took it home to read it.

>I think that some usability testing would have told them that they
>needed to parse the information better, and deliver the most commonly
>needed stuff in a smaller package to the people who were most likely
>to need it. I, for one, could have used a small, perfect-bound,
>"Introduction to Bonehead VMS Commands," on my desk at all times.

Yes. The ole' "gray wall" (V5.x VAX VMS Docset) is somewhat
formidable to the infrequent or unfamiliar user. It occupied
4 shelves; each, 2.5 feet wide.

In May 1993 we streamlined the gray Docset wall to half its height.

The big 3-inch gray binders are gone.

The "gray" wall is now "white" (new OpenVMS V6.x Docset); each manual
is now in a white soft-cover and perfect bound. *Less formidable.*
The manuals are easier to handle while reading and placed about the
desktop (less clunky).

If two shelves (2.5 feet each) of Docset are still too formidable, or
difficult to justify, a Base kit is offered (occupying 8-inches of self)
that contains the most commonly used User and System Management functions.

Convincing your manager that you just need the base kit for your
cubicle (office) might be easier than asking for a complete wall of
documentation. Having to go to the lab or your corporate library
for information is frustrating. Every hard-working user should have
their own documentation. Programmers, however, need the whole set.

As Steve said: "...better clear your calendar for the rest of the find something"
The issue of finding something specific in the sea of OpenVMS functions
is less of a problem with the reduction in size. There's the
master index that many people find helful. I'm working on a prototype
Online Directory Procedure (road map) that contains a menu tree of
learning paths and interactive prompts that will funnel you to the books
and chapters in which your topic interest lies...a trip that would consume
less than a minute to reach your destination. You type "docset" at the DCL
prompt...the top menu appears offering the 3 primary learning paths:
User, Sysman, Programmer. Select one...and away you go (it's almost fun).


Bob Pezzini, Sr. Writer |Disclaimer:
Digital Equipment Corp. |This statement does not represent
Nashua NH |the official viewpoint of Digital
(603)881-1645 ----------------------------------
INTERNET: "pezzini -at- jareth -dot- enet -dot- dec -dot- com"

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