Re: Including Screen Captures

Subject: Re: Including Screen Captures
From: John Posada <jposada -at- NOTES -dot- CC -dot- BELLCORE -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 23 May 1996 18:45:57 -0400

You're both right and you're both "wrong"

If it is not possible to document a feature with words alone, and you've really
tried, and screen captures address the issue, then use screen captures...or
pictures, or hand written scribbles, or moving clips or sound. The important
issue is to convey the information using the most accurate method and
understandable method, regardless of what they are.

On the other hand, just because an application is GUI doesn't mean that it must
have GUI screens. I write many documents for software that are GUI and rarely
use screen caps. In my experience, the customer wants to know what the
benefits of a GUI are...not what it looks like.

To eliminate screen caps for the sake of eliminating screen caps is just as
much a liability as the others on your list. However, don't use them for the
sake of using them.

John Posada
Technical Proposal Writer
Bell Communications Research, Piscataway, NJ
(908) 699-5839 (W)
jposada -at- notes -dot- cc -dot- bellcore -dot- com (W)

"One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice president, and that
one word is 'to be prepared'"
- Vice President Dan Quayle 11/30/1988
--------------------------------------------------------------------
I don't speak for my employer and they return the favor
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At a present tech writing position, my pubs manager insists that the
documentation not have any screen captures. It is said (or the theory
behind this is) that we do not need to have screen captures for several
reasons:

1 - the product changes so much that it would be a bear to keep up with
the changes and recapturing of screens
2 - we are supporting many different platforms (UNIX, Windows NT and 95,
and OS/2)
3 - if we can document it well enough, we don't need the screen captures
4 - the doc would be much longer (thus more costs related to documentation
such as paper costs, etc.) and it's better to have shorter manuals

Has anyone heard of this theory of not including screen captures in doc
for GUI-based software products? Is the user missing anything by not
having screen captures in the doc? It _IS_ easier on our end to not
have to do screen captures, but I'm a little concerned about the
users. Am I way off base by thinking this way?

Regards,
Bill Hartzer Bill Hartzer
Contract Tech Writer President
Texas Instruments, Inc. Highfield Marketing Group, Inc.
Dallas, TX USA Irving, TX USA
xbjh -at- msg -dot- ti -dot- com Highfield -at- aol -dot- com
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