Online-only documents

Subject: Online-only documents
From: Betsy Perry <betsyp -at- VNET -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 14 Aug 1996 11:06:25 -0400

Katharine Woods gave a sensible list of online-only documentation issues.

Her list included:
1) Where are customers going to get their installation info from?

2) What about background info - is there anything they need to know/
have ready before they install?

3) Can you supply the documentation on the disk in a form that is
readable before they install the product?

A corollary to (3) is "Will the online documentation be available if
the product is crashed or unavailable?" If you're documenting a
product, like an operating system or any piece of computer hardware,
that can fail and leave the computer unusable, it is vital to supply
troubleshooting information in non-computer-dependent form.

A customer with a crashed system is already angry; s/he becomes
angrier still if the only explanation of how to recover from a crash
is trapped inside the silent system.

I prefer always to make diagnostic and repair information available on
paper as well as online; this has the side-effect of encouraging the
customer to think about disaster recovery before the disaster strikes.

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