Re: Online vs. Hardcopy documentation

Subject: Re: Online vs. Hardcopy documentation
From: "Wing, Michael J" <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 31 Jul 1996 10:25:26 -0500

>Just a few comments.

>"Wing, Michael J" (mjwing -at- ingr -dot- com) writes:

>> I would also like to add the time and effort spent in writing, editing,
>> producing, and distributing updates to paper documents.

>It escapes me for the moment why it doesn't take just as much time and
>effort to do this with on-line documents?

1) You can't e-mail a paper document (unless you want to fax them the
2) Formatting for print (page breaks, margin adjustments, etc.) are
larger issues with print than with on-line.
3) Added/deleted pages to on-line documents do not cause ripples to page
4) Transmitting an online document does not require postage.
5) Online manuals and updates do not have to be sent to the print shop.
6) Portions of a document pertinent only to particular versions or
variations of an application can be coded for exclusion/inclusion in a
compiled file; print version need separate source documents or language
explaining that "the following text is only applicable to ..."

>> The updates can be sent to >
>customers electronically and directly replace their existing >
>documentation. No more addendum pages, change pages, and errata
>sheets. >

>Perhaps there should be some compromise, hard-copy documentation with
>electronic updates, etc?

I agree. Maybe send on-line updates for minor revisions/updates and
hard copy with softcopy when a large change(s) or a large accumulation
of changes has warranted a new printed version.

>> True, the on-line documents don't provide the same
>artistic qualities > when printed when compared to documents formatted

>"...artistic qualities..." Do you mean communication skills and
>that is implied by that (Please see my signature block).

Nah, just page layout and formatting. Correctness of language does not
improve/degrade because of the medium in which appears. Does it?

>>As far as > sitting back with the document in my lap, I guess I'll
>have to use a >>laptop or a printout.

>Ah, so there will still be printouts! Allow me a moment to imagine your
>bookshelves in a years time, piled high with printouts. :D

It won't be too bad. The printouts still fit in binders. Last I knew,
binders still fit on the shelf. I also plan to toss out the outdated
documents. No sense having version 1.0 printouts when I have only
version 5.0 on my system. By the way, most of this stuff will be on CD.
I'll print out what I need, toss it when I have absorbed the material,
and use the on-line to refresh my memory. I can always reprint whenever
it's been too long to remember.

I'm not one who thinks that printed manuals are going away completely.
Losing ground to online documents, that's another story. I prefer to
have both available. I like the online for quick look-up and the
printed for study. As far as advancing in my profession -- with HTML,
CDs, online documents, context-sensitivity, interactive video, and so
forth, electronic media seems to be path to take.

Mike Wing

>_/ Michael Wing
>_/ Principal Technical Writer
>_/ Jupiter Customization and Educational Services
>_/ Intergraph Corporation
>_/ Huntsville, Alabama
>_/ (205) 730-7250
>_/ mjwing -at- ingr -dot- com

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