Re: Reasons for online

Subject: Re: Reasons for online
From: Coleen MacKay <cmackay -at- BNA -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 1994 15:12:39 EST

This is great! We're having a better discussion on indexing
here than on the indexing list. I'll try to respond to
several comments made in response to my defense of indexing.

Caryn Rizell said she finds the manual index to be superior
to the online index. Bob Morrisette said he didn't
understand that, that FrameMaker provided hypertext links to
create an index and what could be quicker than that?

First, Jan Boomsliter asked us to define our terms. I did
assume that when Caryn said she saw a difference in the
manual and online indexes, that the manual index was created
by an indexer, and the online index was created by a
software utility. They couldn't be exactly the same,
otherwise why would Caryn see a difference?

Several people pointed out that the hypertext links are not
taken from the text, but are added by a human indexer. I
hadn't realized that. But that doesn't mean the human
providing the links has any training as an indexer. (We
don't use Frame at my company, but I would be interested in
seeing exactly how these hypertext index links are
established, before I can comment further on them.)

Becky Hough pointed out that using Frame, the manual and
online indexes are identical. Maybe they can be, but if
that's the case with the document Caryn originally referred
to, why does she find the manual index to be superior?
It seems to me the 2 indexes must have been created

Brad Lindamood assumed that what Bob was saying was "that
jumping from the online index to the referenced page is
much quicker via a hypertext link." Just because hypertext
provides quicker access than one gets flipping through a
paper index doesn't mean it provides more *accurate* access,
if indeed the 2 indexes were created separately.

As a few other techwirlers said, as online documentation
evolves, we do have to pay attention to things like indexes.
It is a rare user who will read all the way through a
product's technical documentation solely because of its
literary value. We have to make sure they have quick
accurate access to the section of documentation they need at
a particular frantic moment.

I would welcome any further clarifications if I'm still
misinterpreting anything.

Coleen MacKay
cmackay -at- bna -dot- com

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