Re: Discuss: Third party manuals?

Subject: Re: Discuss: Third party manuals?
From: Garret Romaine <GRomaine -at- MSMAIL -dot- RADISYS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 14 Apr 1995 08:29:00 PDT

"Geoff Hart asked: <<If we do such a great job documenting software,
why are so many people making a good living writing third party "how
to" books? What are they doing right and what are we doing wrong?>>"

Good question, Geoff. I wonder how much of the third party business is
simply 'Monday-morning quarterbacking'? They see where the manual fell down,
step in and fix it.

Other points are worth noting: there is a friendlier chatter to the third
party books. See especially my least favorite, "DOS for Dummies," etc. This
series drives me crazy, because it starts with a putdown of the audience and
goes from there. But I have friends who swear by them because computers
intimidate them so much.

How much of this can we blame on meddling from the marketing department?
Sometimes I like to tease my Product Support group about writing the
"unauthorized version" of the new manual. In this book, I get to document
everything the way I want to, describing the product warts and all, and
blaming engineers for bad design, marketing for bad proposals, and so forth.
I get pretty tired of the phrase, "We can't say that," when I'm wrestling
through three pages of prose to describe a problem the engineers designed

Last, before we impale ourselves on the cross of self-abuse, consider the
most likely source of a market for these books: the buyer pirated the
software and now needs a manual.

Garret Romaine
RadiSys Corp.

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