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
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,

|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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