Re: documentation on the WWW

Subject: Re: documentation on the WWW
From: Chet Ensign <censign -at- INTERSERV -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 3 Oct 1996 10:13:25 -0700

Arlen writes:

>> Yep, there's a web-only advantage. But why is the manual out of date?
Because you already decided not to ship a manual with the last version? <<

I'm just speaking from experience here. When I was working in a tech writing
group, we heard from lots of customers whose copy of this manual or that had
migrated away from their desks. And we heard from lots that had purchasing
departments that would not approve purchases for individual copies of
documentation, so there was one copy of the manual in the whole department and
people often had to go hunting for it. Especially frustrating when all they
wanted to know was "what was that one parameter for the fuzz-it command that
would let me get this utility to run???"

That was also why users often had manuals that were out of date. When release
600.7 came out, somebody managed to inherit the 600.5 manual, so they stoppped
being beligerant about getting back the 550.2 manual so whoever was lucky
enough to still be holding onto it...

Not saying this is good practice, mind you. Just that's it is reality at least
for some companies.

>> With the highly visible outages experienced recently, It
might be quite possible that your normally connected customers can't get to
your web stie because either your or their ISP is down. <<

Right. I don't think anyone should try to use the Web as their primary source
of technical documentation, for all the reasons you mention. But, given that
technology is making it possible to deliver printed documentation **and** make
it available over the Web, I think that there are lots of advantages -- if it
works for your customers.

Best regards,

/chet


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