Re: Why We Need Good Software Manuals

Subject: Re: Why We Need Good Software Manuals
From: CARYN_RIZELL -at- HP-ROSEVILLE-OM2 -dot- OM -dot- HP -dot- COM
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 1996 10:00:57 -0800

I'm glad this topic has come up. I recently received a call from a=

field rep for our products, and his question was "Why isn't there a=

manual?" (All our documentation for the product is online, except =
for =

the installation instructions.)

I have always been a proponent of minimalist documentation. Big =

manuals intimidate me. I don't have time to read manuals unless I =

want to solve a problem. I figure if the manual is huge, the produ=
ct =

is probably not very intuitive.

Yet, there are some times that I desire a manual. If I want to =

research an issue I probably want the manual. Reference material i=
s =

best left in a manual.

I disagree that the answer is to provide everything in both places.=

There are certain topics more suited to online, just as there are =

topics more suited to manuals. It is our task to discover what the=
se =

are by asking the user.

Instead of throwing everything at them, maybe we should first ask t=
he =

following questions: 1) is the topic even useful to the user 2) =
in =

what format should this topic be presented

Our real task is not whether we should provide everything in a manual or=
but determining what topics the user even wants to see explained.

Just my 2 cents!

Caryn Rizell
Learning Products Engineer

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________=
Subject: Re: Why We Need Good Software Manuals
Author: Non-HP-TECHWR-L (TECHWR-L -at- listserv -dot- okstate -dot- edu) at HP-Roseville=
Date: 1/22/96 6:38 AM

I firmly believe that both the online help and the manual should be as =

thorough and comprehensive as possible and that they both should contain=

essentially the same information. I also believe that both should contai=
n =

both task-based and reference data. IMO, anything less than that is a =

disservice to the user. Some users are more comfortable with online help=
, =

others are more comfortable with paper documents. We should be providing=

documentation for the end user in a form that he or she is comfortable =

using. It may cost a bit more, but I think those costs are offset by =

goodwill from satisfied customers.

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