Re: H/W v S/W difficulty

Subject: Re: H/W v S/W difficulty
From: "Doug, Data Librarian at Ext 4225" <engstromdd -at- PHIBRED -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 1994 08:55:40 -0600

Joining the hardware/software writing discussion, using this comment from
Rick Lippincott as a springboard:

Could 12 tech writers working as a team produce a document that explained
-every- detail of Word 6? I suspect they could. Would it requre 6500
pages? I suspect not.

But would the thing be so vast and complex as to be considered unusable by
the intended audience? Almost certainly. One of the advantages frequently
enjoyed by hardware writers (especially in the military) is that you know
that someone, somewhere, will *make* the audience read your stuff.

That being said, it's also true that there are some information loads that
are simply too heavy to be carried by print alone. I (and several
predecessors) spent years trying to come up with an adequate way to explain
Pioneer's automated Corn Dryer Control system to temporary employees, to no
avail. We tried the classic binder, posters, quick reference cards, etc. to
no avail. This year, some of our effort was ported over to a multimedia
training presentation on CD-I, and *that* seems to be working.

As for some softwear being non-linear: if it's non-linear, then how does the
program execute? There -has- to be a link between every line and the
instruction that go you there. Sure, there's jumps and loops, but it's still
a series of simple steps, flowing one after another.

OK, in some sense all software is linear, but so is life, since all (or at
least most) of us are slogging along in sequential time. However, once a
program has multiple points of entry, and multiple branches that may or may
not be governed by the point of entry, it is non-linear for all practical
purposes. Given enough branches and loops, it can become *very* ugly in a

Doug "Women are designed for long,
ENGSTROMDD -at- phibred -dot- com miserable lives, whereas men are
designed for short, violent ones."
- Estelle Ramey

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