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Subject:Re: inhouse vs outside doc (RE: Good/bad docs) From:"Eric J. Ray" <ejray -at- RAYCOMM -dot- COM> Date:Sun, 9 Aug 1998 13:17:53 -0600
>If I were the in-house technical writer looking at that third-party
>literature, I would feel humiliated. The overwhelming majority of technical
>communicators think that the documentation enclosed with the product should
>provide the user with full instructions on using the product.
Hmmm. I'm not at all sure there'd be a reason to feel humiliated,
because the purpose and focus of third party books is just
completely different from the regular documentation.
Deborah and I have written two third party books for
commercial products (plus ghost written two more) and
found that one of the neat things about writing third party
books is that you can focus COMPLETELY on the user needs
and not deal with corporate marketing issues, product positioning
issues, or the "this feature is really important and everyone will
want it and it works as designed--it's not a bug" issues.
Many (probably most) users don't WANT or NEED full instructions
on using the product--they want just enough to get them
started and doing what they need to do. (Note: Don't bother
citing counter-examples to prove this wrong--see any number
of Dummies-type books in the bookstores if you disagree.)
Then, after they've come up to speed, many move on to
more detailed or in depth books. Again here, though, the
objectivity permitted by using a third party book is valuable.
From the author's point of view, it's quite satisfying, and
far more helpful to the reader in many cases.
* Eric J. Ray, ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com, http://www.raycomm.com/
* TECHWR-L Listowner, co-author _Mastering HTML 4.0_
* _HTML 4 for Dummies Quick Reference_, and others.
* See our overhauled Web site at http://www.raycomm.com