Re: Converting HELP files to RTF files

Subject: Re: Converting HELP files to RTF files
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 22 Mar 1996 15:19:49 -0800

Rick Lippincott wrote:
>At 10:31 PM 3/19/96 GMT, Charles Good wrote:

>>It's bad enough that the standard help engine
>>allows you to copy text (which you can paste into a notepad window).

>Then Sue Gallagher said:
(that's me) ;-)

>>And I'm not sure why you think this is a bad thing. I have often
>>taken advantage of this capability, and even automated it [snip]

>It's a sticky issue at our company, and some others. In fact, it was
>brought up at our department meeting just today. We're shipping our docs
>in online form only, on a CD-ROM. Customers are starting to ask us "Saaaay,
>do you mind if we cut-n-paste your procedures into our own internal
>documents?" We're not too keen on that, and plan to start including some
>limited license language.

Granted... Shipping documents in electronic form makes it easy for
those who have no concept of intellectual property. However, these
people who are prone to pirate would probably do so anyway. If you
shipped only paper doc, you'd find poorly-made photocopies in their
internal documents rather than neatly copied and integrated electronic
text. And, no... I don't *condone* it, I'm just saying it happens.

>My boss also pointed out that our customrs could copy files,
>delete some text, and they've then got nicely designed templates in
>Information Mapping (TM) layout. At our expense.

Well, you were doin' it *anyway* <g>. And this is only a *fear*,
not a proven fact (paranoia???) But there's little difference, IMO,
between this and downloading the html code for a web page you like
or taking a photocopy of a particularly pleasing layout for future
reference (and that little difference *may* only be that the client
paid for the original).

And, no, I don't mean to make light of your concerns, but I recognize
the ability to copy electronic text as a great convenience to the
customer. Obviously, the documentation that you provide does not do
everything the purchaser wants it to do (through no fault of your own).
Your customers are being creative -- using your documentation to its
full potential, if you will. Being able to include snipetts
of your product documentation in their internal procedures will allow
your customers to run their organization more efficiently, let them
spotlight important information that the end-user may neglect to look
up when that information is most needed, prevent accidents or ruined
equipment... IMO, the benefits to the end-user far outweigh the
drawbacks.

And don't forget that (in WinHelp anyway) you can automatically append
a copyright notice to the end of all copied text.

It seems to me that we are sometimes more concerned with the sanctity
of the written words we produce than we are with making life easier for
our customers/user base. We should do what we can to facilitate their
attempts at making the documentation more accessible.

Ask yourself if your customers are going to copy that documentation to
turn around and sell it with their own, competitive, semi-conductors
or if they're copying it to help them use your product more easily/
more safely/to its full potential. If the answer is what I think it will
be, then ask yourself -- so, what's the big deal????? ;-)

Just a few user-centered thoughts on a Friday afternoon from
Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com
who will, in the next few weeks, be investigating the best
way to facilitate copying code samples out of her help
files and into the programs where they'll be used because
my users are not my enemy, so I think I ought to try to be
their friend.


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