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> The central question is this: If you could have a omprehensive,
> hypertext help on your computer -- a help window that can
> remain open even while you are doing other things in the
> underlying application -- would you still want a paper manual?
Personally, no. I've been working a lot lately in Microsoft Word, Access, and
Excel and love being able to just click on the Help menu and find what I'm
looking for. I esp. like the cue cards in
Access. In my experience with Microsoft products, if I can't find it in
on-line help, I can't find it in the paper manual, either. I do find myself
printing some pages from on-line help that I pin up on the wall, but I'd
probably copy those pages from the manual anyway, so I'd just be killing more
*However,* I know a lot of people who don't feel this way (yet), and prefer
to have a hard-copy manual that they can look things up in. The other problem
is the quality of on-line help - as I mentioned, I like W4W, Access & Excel
help, and CorelDraw's, but the help for Ventura and Framemaker help is
cumbersome and not particularly helpful (IMHO).
Unfortunately, I think we are strapped down to hard-copy manuals, at least in
the near-term. I agree with Mike Priestly that most information will be
on-line in the near future, but I don't think some people are quite ready
yet. Actually, I think someone should start making paperback-book sized
readers that you just plop a disk in and read a book, manual, or magazine. If
they can make GameBoys, why can't they make BookGirls? (Ideally it would be
waterproof so you could hop on a raft and work while you float on the waves
-- but I digress.)
Anyways, I don't think you can completely avoid the hard copy. You need to
give them some kind of start up document, and something that tells them how
to cope with errors (not that software ever bombs out . . .) when the system