Re: Intuitivity

Subject: Re: Intuitivity
From: Peter Gold <pgold -at- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 7 Jul 1996 10:04:12 -0700

[snipped the flames]

IMHO: Intuition is in the mind of the intuiter, so let's agree that some
users find product X more or intuitive than product Y. On a more specific
level, especially for technical writers, consider that learning style and
learning preference influence one's comfort, engagement, productivity,
etc. with a tool.

It's probably fair to say Frame's interface has room for improvement in
consistency across its various areas of function. Word? Well?

Maybe "intuition" is not the appropriate measure of productivity. Maybe
"consistency of model" is. Frame 5 has an overview (Help>FrameMaker
Overview; in unix, use Help in a document window, not on the main button
bar) that succinctly presents the building blocks that are the foundation
of the professional documentation process - named styles (formats) for
paragraphs, sub-portions of paragraph (character formats), page layout
models (master pages), and model documents (templates, documents that
contain these building blocks). Using these, authors quickly can create
new variants, modify existing ones, exchange selectively with other
authors, and get on with their work.

Word style sheets work similarly (merge styles), though the power of the
two products is different in regard to the extent of paragraph features
and page layouts.

To return to the topic of this mailing list, think about the job of
technical writing. If you define it as an information
gathering/processing/distribution issue, then make your judgements of
what tools are appropriate on that measure. If you consider it mostly a
grain of sand around which to layer your tool irritations to make your
own pearl of wisdom, maybe move the discussion to product-specific
newsgroups or lists.

One way to judge the value of a tool to the professionals who use it is
to ask how it works in various contexts, such as starting from scratch,
working independently, working collaboratively, working with legacy
documents created in it and in other applications, scaling up from a
single document to one that incorporates numerous individual documents,
effort involved in revising and maintaining, etc.

In regard to accellerators (keystroke combinations): almost everything one
does in Frame with mouse and menus can be keyed; shortcuts come in two
flavors - platform-compliant and universal (sometimes called "Frame-unix"
shortcuts. Not only is this information in hardcopy form, it's in
Help>Keystroke Shortcuts.


Peter Gold
pgold -at- netcom -dot- com

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