What's with the new docs?

Subject: What's with the new docs?
From: Jane Bergen <janeb -at- AIRMAIL -dot- NET>
Date: Sun, 21 Jan 1996 21:02:34 +0000

I'm so exasperated..... what is happening with the documentation,
both online and paper, with some of the new Windows 95 programs? Or
perhaps I should rephrase that: what is NOT happening....?

When the brand new, "revolutionary" operating system/platform (or
whatever one chooses to call it) came out in August, we got a manual
of 95 pages, front to back including index. I bought Microsoft Office
for Windows which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Schedule.
The manual for this entire package is smaller than the manual that
came with Word 6.0 !

Now I buy ABC Graphics Suite from Micrografx. It includes Designer
(drawing), Picture Publisher (image editing), Flow Chart, etc. The
manual is about the size of the Win95 manual!!! And the online help,
which won an award by our STC chapter, is minimal. Here's an
example: I was trying to set up a new scanner, but I could not get
anything to appear as a driver. I searched desperately . . .and I
think I do know how to use online help, after all.... and under the
heading "Setup Scanner Dialog Box" you get ONE sentence: "This
dialog box lets you specify a TWAIN driver." Ummm. Now isn't THAT
helpful? To the credit of Micrografx, however, I did find some help
from the tech support section of their web page.

So.....fellow tech writers....are we being phased out or what? Is it
now a market only for third party books? Is anyone else concerned
about this new non-documentation approach? All you have to do is look
in any Barnes and Noble, Bookstop, Borders, or other bookstores and
the shelves are packed with documentation. The catch is that these
folks aren't employed as tech writers by contract or by permanent
employment. They write the books and hope some publisher will pick it
up and then you and I, driven by sheer desperation, will go buy it.
And so far, I have NOT seen any books in stores on Picture Publisher
or Designer. Guess from now on, I'll see what books are available and
then shop for software!!!!
hope that someone from Microsoft or Micrografx might share some
insights with us on this list. Sorry to be so long, but it's been a
rough weekend!
............................................................................
Jane Bergen Technical Writer
janeb -at- answersoft -dot- com or janeb -at- airmail -dot- net
"The difference between the right word and the almost right word
is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug"
(Mark Twain)
............................................................................

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