Why We Need Good Software Manuals

Subject: Why We Need Good Software Manuals
From: Alexander Von_obert <avobert -at- TWH -dot- MSN -dot- SUB -dot- ORG>
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 1996 23:56:00 +0100

Hello everyone,


* Antwort auf eine Nachricht von "Huber, Mike" an All am 29.01.96

"M> From: "Huber, Mike" <Mike -dot- Huber -at- software -dot- rockwell -dot- com>

"M> I was out at a training class (not about writing - I was the
"M> only
"M> writer there) and the guy at the next desk, out of the blue,
"M> started
"M> complaining about Microsoft manuals that have exactly the same
"M> information (down to the examples) as the help screens.

"M> From: Starr, Mike[SMTP:Mike -dot- Starr -at- software -dot- rockwell -dot- com]

"M> should be as
"M> thorough and comprehensive as possible and that they both
"M> should contain
"M> essentially the same information.

Both are different media with different possibilities and weaknesses. Some
users want something "to put under their pillow", e.g. if they use a program
at work and want to familiarize a home. On the screen you must atomize the
information to get digestable little pieces on those small, (relatively)
low-resolution screens.

I think it cannot be good practice to offer about the same information in about
the same way on both media. But that is essentially what tools like
Doc-to_help
and others do when offering both media from one source.

Why not use the chance to

- Relieve the manual from all those details you inserted screenshots for.
- Use those pages to describe the concepts of your product.
- Remove those details from the manual that are not really important
but change from one version to the other (and give the manual a longer
useful lifespan).
- Offer all those little details context sensitively.
- Use the time while the manual is printed to update the online help.


Greetings from Germany,
Alexander

--
|Fidonet: Alexander Von_obert 2:2490/1719
|Internet: avobert -at- twh -dot- msn -dot- sub -dot- org

| Standard disclaimer: The views of this user are strictly his own.


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