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 11:32:06 -0800

(Please forgive me if this is a duplicate post. When I received it via
ccmail it was garbage, so I was afraid that it came through as garbage for
some of you also.)

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

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 product is probably not very

Yet, there are some times that I desire a manual. If I want to research
an issue I probably want the manual. Reference material is best left in a

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 these are by asking the

Instead of throwing everything at them, maybe we should first ask the
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 online,
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,mimegw3
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 contain
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.


TO: Mike -dot- starr -at- software -dot- rockwell -dot- com,
TECHWR-L -at- listserv -dot- okstate -dot- edu

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