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>Do the third party books merely rehash the info. in the reference
>manuals, providing nothing more than another look at the same material?
>Or, are these books significant (superior?)
A long time ago I wrote a book called "Programming the Z8000." It dealt with
Zilog's 16-bit microprocessor--the one that came in third against the Intel
8086 (the IBM PC) and the Motorola 68000 (the Macintosh). My book was
clearly superior to anything Zilog ever published. Really.
Moving forward about fifteen years I can give you three examples of third
party books that are much better than anything you can get from the
Running Word 6 for Windows by Russell Borland (Microsoft Press, ISBN
1-55615-574-3). Yes, you could argue that Microsoft Press has an intimate
relationship with the manufacturer.
The Visual Quickstart Guide to FrameMaker 4 for Windows by Jann Tolman
(Peachpit, ISBN 1-56609-097-0). Sadly unavailable for other platforms, but
then FrameMaker has a high degree of cross-platform consistency.
The QuarkXPress Book by David Blatner and Eric Taub, edited by Stephen R.
Roth (Peachpit; the Mac version has ISBN 1-56609-129-2; I don't have the
Windows ISBN handy). This is one of the few books I've ever seen where an
editor gets credit on the cover.
All of these books share a common quality. The authors have painstakingly
researched the issues and have brought enormous experience to bear on the
task of organizing and conveying useful information. They are, to use some
jargon I learned on this list, SMEs as well as excellent technical writers.
Dr. Richard Mateosian Freelance Technical Writer srm -at- c2 -dot- org
Review Editor, IEEE Micro Vice President, STC Berkeley Chapter