Re: Online-only documents

Subject: Re: Online-only documents
From: "Wing, Michael J" <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 14 Aug 1996 17:49:30 -0500

>From: Betsy Perry[SMTP:betsyp -at- VNET -dot- NET]
>Sent: Wednesday, August 14, 1996 10:06 AM
>To: Multiple recipients of list TECHWR-L
>Subject: Online-only documents

>Katharine Woods gave a sensible list of online-only documentation

>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.

Typically, a short getting started and/or installation instructions are
supplied in hardcopy. In the case of an operating system, a hardcopy
installation seems mandatory. Most online guides can be run independent
of the application. Often, the online guide is executable from the
program group. Therefore, installation instructions can still be online
whether or not the application has been installed.

On a side note, setups are getting easier. Much of the software can
decipher your system configuration, software, and hardware. Setup
wizards perform many of today's software installations (I realize that
some software has complicated installations - especially some UNIX-based
applications). The wizard typically has an online installation guide.
Usually at each setup screen the user can get help. Basically, most
installation instructions consist of, "insert disk 1, type
<drive>:\setup, and follow the instructions" or "insert the CD. The
installation wizard will start automatically and guide you through the

Mike Wing

>_/ Michael Wing
>_/ Principal Technical Writer
>_/ Infrastructure Technical Information Development
>_/ Intergraph Corporation
>_/ Huntsville, Alabama
>_/ (205) 730-7250
>_/ mjwing -at- ingr -dot- com

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