Why We Need Good Software Manuals

Subject: Why We Need Good Software Manuals
From: David Ibbetson <ibbetson -at- IDIRECT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 12:44:48 -0500

Tracy Boyington writes:
> > one problem we're seeing with new stuff, is "pointless help". got a
> > dialog box with a field that says "file name" and an OK function
> > button and you click the help key and get a nice dialog that says
> > things like "this is the file name field". no duh.

> This is my pet peeve and yet my engineers absolutely INSIST that I do
> this! I hate it! They want every field in every window and dialog box
> to have a separate topic. I've thrown fits but to no avail. How much
> can you say about a field titled "Last Name" or "City"? It's just
> plain ridiculous

Some useful things that can be said about Last Name or City, indeed about
virtually every field:
1) Number of characters allowed
2) Character set. Are accented letters allowed? What about spaces or hyphens?
3) Is there a default value?
4) May the field be left blank?

On a related topic, North Americans assume that everybody has exactly two
given names. I have three, my mother had one. (Every now and again in the UK
one hears about a child cursed with 26 names, one for each letter of the

What should I or my mother enter for "middle initial"?

David (the idiot) Ibbetson

David Ibbetson Phone (416) 363-6692
ibbetson -at- idirect -dot- com Fax (416) 363-4987
133 Wilton Street, #506
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5A 4A4

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