Is this why paper books w

Subject: Is this why paper books w
From: Barb Philbrick <barb -dot- philbrick -at- PCOHIO -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 31 Jul 1994 21:34:00 -0500

P>For monster packages like Microsoft Office(*), where does all that
P>impressive weight and volume come from? How impressive would they be
P>on store shelves, in the office, or in the home without that weight
P>and volume?

People still buy diamonds, and they're certainly not packaged with a lot
of literature, and are a lot less functional than most software. I use a
fair amount of shareware, which has no weight. I don't look for
impressive; I look for good product reviews, and what my clients are

P>What's the FIRST thing you put your hands on when you crack open the
P>new software package you've just received? Do you immediately seize
P>the disks and begin installing [whatever]? I think not!

I think so! I haven't had to read the install section of a manual in a
few years, especially Windows products. Framemaker was the last product
That I spent a significant time with the manuals, and I wouldn't have
spent as much time with the hard copy if the help was better.

P>How do you feel when you open a software package with little or no
P>documentation? Ever had that let-down feeling?

Nope. What's worse is lots of useless documentation.

I recently got a CD-ROM with all of Shakespeare's works and a variety of
other works, and it was exciting to get such a compact medium that
included works that would have taken up many bookshelves. Not only that,
but it can be searched and quoted.

P>Why does anyone ever register a shareware package to a tiny little
P>saddle-stitched, 8-page manual containing nothing new in the way of
P>instructions . . .

I register software that I use. The three most recent registers were a
cassette liner program (no docs); a measurement conversion utility (also
no docs); and an offline reader (opted not to pay the extra $$$ for the
docs, since their online help is good). I didn't even get upgraded
versions; I just thought they did a good job on programs I can use, and
want to support their efforts.

P>I guess what I'm trying to say here is that anyone proposing to
P>completely eliminate paper documentation from any software product,
P>anywhere, should first think about their own reactions to packages
P>with voluminous, average, and little-or-no paper docs.

I do think about it, which is why I am a proposer of eliminating paper
documentation. <g> It is my opinion that when products become truly user-
friendly, technical writers will be out of business. (Doesn't look like
I need to start a career switch right away, though.)

P>What product or development manager,
P>or even company president, has never opened and installed a software

I can name three off the top of my head, and I'm sure I can come up with
more given time.
* CMPQwk 1.4 #9107 * TANSTAAFL

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