Re[2]: online vs. paper

Subject: Re[2]: online vs. paper
From: "Arlen P. Walker" <Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 7 Oct 1994 11:08:00 -0500

Since walking you through the details of a task is
>sometimes easier on-line, let the on-line help contain that in addition.

See? We agree.

Well, we're close. You stated earlier that you don't want every command
documented in the paper docs. I do. Step-by-steps for how to reformat a blodget
into a fremcycle, which can be a tricky procedure, can possibly be left to the
on-line help (but it still bothers me that you would force me to fire up a
system and software just to see how much hassle it would be to do it, so I'll
be better able to know when I'll have the time to try). But the fact that it
can be done should be in the paper, as well as full documentation of the each
of the commands involved in the procedure.

It's just that when my boss comes into my cube screaming that he needs his
flugel de-horned, I can reach into my bookshelf (My cube is certainly messy,
but I keep my books on a bookshelf -- my one concession to organization) flip
open the manual, look at it, and say "It's a fairly simple procedure, shouldn't
take more than an hour." And do that in less time than it would take me to load
FlugelDeHorner, open the on-line help, and dig out the answer from there.

That's the root of it. If the application isn't already running, it'll take me
longer to launch it and open the on-line help than it will to grab the book and
open it. Jonathan Erickson, in the old Computer Language magazine (moment of
silence observed with hand over heart for the passing of the best computer mag
in the business) made a similar observation.

He had just purchased a CD-ROM with a dictionary, thesaurus, and several other
standard reference works, and he looked forward to using it instead of the huge
books which were taking up shelf and desk space in his office. It lasted for
about a month. Then he realized he was able to retrieve the information faster
from the books than from the CD-ROM. The books stayed and the CD-ROM went. Not
for any sentimental reasons; not because he was resistant to change -- he
honestly looked forward to using the new technology. But simply because it's
faster to use a well-organized book than launch a computer program.

Have fun,

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.

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