Re: Online Documentation. New! Improved!

Subject: Re: Online Documentation. New! Improved!
From: "Wing, Michael J" <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 17 Oct 1996 13:42:37 -0500

>Robert wrote:

>>>The problem is not that it's impossible to do good on-line documentation,
>>>but that the flagship products have garbage-scow documentation, and
>>>many people cheerfully salute the flag and emulate the garbage scow.

>Then Michael wrote:

>>Then by this logic --> Document is poor. Document is online. Therefore
>>online is a poor documentation medium.

>I concluded nothing of the sort. I specifically disclaimed that conclusion
>not once, but several times in my posting.

Yes, indeed, you have. And everyone of them was a qualified statement.
They each have a left-handed compliment (sorry southpaws). Kind of like
saying "For a fat person, you sure don't sweat much". With each
compliment you have a negative comment married to it. Below are quotes
from your posts along with their negative associations:

good on-line documentation -----> "salute the flag" and "garbage scow"

"The problem is not that it's impossible to do good on-line
documentation,
but that the flagship products have garbage-scow documentation, and
many people cheerfully salute the flag and emulate the garbage scow."

on-line-only -----> "no reference manual" and "makes the users stupid"

"Specifically, products that always shipped with heavy and expensive
paper reference manuals sometimes appear with on-line-only documentation
-- and no reference manual. The assumption seems to be that the switch
from paper documentation to on-line documentation actually makes the
users stupid."

(continuation of on-line only) -----> "piece of idiocy" and "sunk to the
duh level"

"Of course, not everyone falls for this piece of idiocy, but I'm AMAZED
at the number of programs in whichI have where the documentation has
sunk
to the duh-level -- where . . . ."

seriously cool -----> "non-writers reinventing writing in a vacuum"

"On-line help can be seriously cool, but at the moment most of it is at
a stage marked by the confluence of the "non-writers reinventing writing
in a vacuum" and "Wow! Look how . . . . ."

growing pains -----> "useless noise" and "people emulating ... instead
of ..."

"Some of it is growing pains, but much is useless noise caused by people
emulating "market leaders" instead of figuring out what's what."

"In a book ..." ----> "Much of online ... has NONE ..."

"In a book, you can flip through the pages, look at the table of
contents,
or look in the index. Much of the on-line documentation I've been using
has NONE of these features. . . . . . ."

"online ... real Manuals" ----> "worst .... specifically for on-line
use"

"So, thus far, my best experiences with on-line documentation has been
with real manuals, and my worst have been with documentation that was
designed(?) specifically for on-line use, with everything done right
and proper according to the rules du jour <snip>"

Maybe I would not jump to these conclusions if you did not supply the
springboard.

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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