Re: TECHWR-L Digest - 3 Nov 1998 to 4 Nov 1998

Subject: Re: TECHWR-L Digest - 3 Nov 1998 to 4 Nov 1998
From: Mike Starr <mike -dot- starr -at- PLATINUM -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 5 Nov 1998 11:04:39 -0600


Nothing's more painful to me as a user than to want to know specific details of
what a control does or what the limitations are on the data I can enter into a
data field and not be able to get that information. An example from personal
experience; in the New Reply window I'm working in right now with Lotus Notes,
there are seven buttons at the top of the window. One of them is "Expand
Personal Group". Now, I hadn't a clue what that button was for, so i went to
the Lotus Notes help file and searched high and low, through mostly procedural
topics because there are very few reference topics other than API calls. After
a very frustrating half hour of searching (and I'm VERY good at finding things
if they're there to be found), I came to the conclusion that the information
just was not to be found in the help file. Finally, I clicked one of the
ever-present offers in Notes Help to submit comments to the Lotus documentation
group and fired off one of my patented terse rants on reference documentation.
A few days later I got the information I wanted but I shouldn't have had to ask
for it; it should have been there in the first place.

This represents the kind of documentation frustration I've encountered so many
times that I've vowed to provide reference material in everything I produce
that gives users information about what everything they encounter does and what
the limitations are to its use. Crab all you want about how we should only give
users documentation that tells them how to do what they want to do but I say we
also need to tell them what everything is and how it works. Anything less is a
disservice to the customer who pays our salaries.



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