Re: Documenting for LCD or most common?

Subject: Re: Documenting for LCD or most common?
From: Gay Reed <ahreed -at- MAIL -dot- HOT1 -dot- NET>
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 1998 18:52:13 -0600

I recently documented a Windows 16-bit application that's being released for
Windows 3.1, OS/2, Windows 95, and Windows NT. The decision (not mine) was to
create a 3.1-OS/2 version of the user's guide and a 95/NT version. Except for
the "Installing and Configuring XXX" and "Getting Started" chapters, I simply
copied the other material, captured new screen shots, edited the links to the
graphics, and updated my headers and front matter to reflect the appropriate
version. While not an elegant solution, it's a practical one for my target

My chief dilemma in going the dual-doc route is guessing the ratio of 3.1 to
95/NT requests. Another respondent averred that there's a paucity of Windows 3.1
users out there. While this is likely the general case, I document software
aimed at the insurance industry; a considerable number still cling to a Windows
3.1 standard.

I think it's important to consider your audience: Do they have the patience to
navigate past material that's extraneous to them? If you go with 95 over 3.1 (or
vice versa) would screen shots from one version be confusing to users of the
other version? Is there a clear majority of 95 users? What OS does the
"weighted" majority of your customers use? For example, suppose that 15% of your
customers are 3.1 users, but contribute 60% to your bottom line. Is the goodwill
of this profit-generating minority a consideration?

On the publication side of the issue: Is it practical or cost-effective for you
to produce two versions? If you go with two versions, can you reliably predict
the number of each version you'll need to produce?

No answers, just more grist for the mill.

Gay Reed
Mailto:ahreed -at- hot1 -dot- net

Colleen Adams wrote:

> We are in the process of revising a user's guide for a new version of
> software (Windows-based ) which is about to be released. We've
> already re-pulled the screen captures which were done in Windows 95
> but had previously been done in 3.1. (BTW, the software is still
> compatible with 3.1.)
> Q: When documenting installation instructions, should we document for
> both 3.1 and 95? As a rule, should we document for lowest common
> demoninator or most commonly used? (I've already checked with
> Customer Support to verify that we still have some 3.1 users--and we
> do.) If yes, then do we split out the 3.1 instructions from 95 or keep them
> together?
> Q: We also have various tutorial lessons which step you through some
> applications of the software. Again, Windows 3.1 or 95?
> Any advice would be appreciated!! Thanks!!
> Colleen Adams
> External Documentation Supervisor
> Medi-Span, Inc.
> Indianapolis, IN
> colleen_adams -at- medispan -dot- com

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