Re: PDF v paper

Subject: Re: PDF v paper
From: Peter Lucas <peterlucas -at- EARTHLINK -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 16 Dec 1998 16:26:55 -0800

David Castro wrote:

>This is one of those times that I *really* wish I could quote my source,
>but I read that for every document you send out electronically, it is
>printed 3 times over during its lifetime.

I wish you could quote your source too . . .

>Users tend to print the same
>pages over and over, but nonetheless, they do print them.

So they print a few pages here and there. At least they aren't printing
entire manuals. At first many of our customers were resistent to the change,
but in the end they saw the benefits. For one thing, we update our
documentation frequently and the best way for them to get the latest and
most up-to-date documenation is to pop in to our web page and download the
latest stuff. This was what won them over in the end.

>There goes your
>saving trees.

Naah. If even one tree can be saved because an ENTIRE manual wasn't printed,
that's good enough for me. I think online docs are helping this cause.

>Besides, look at the amount of paper used in the
>documentation that is sent out versus the amount of paper that is used
>internally in the process of creating the software.

I'm not sure what you are referring to exactly, but at our office, wanton
printing of specs, etc., is NOT encouraged. We keep all of our "internal"
documenation in one place and use Acrobat Catalog to index everything so our
programmers can do full text searches on the PDF's. We also encourage
programmers to use tools in Microsoft Word for document revision/sharing,
etc. We also use our software version control system to manage documenation
for the programmers.

Going to a "paperless" situation can be done. It just takes time, patience,
and people who will stand up for the cause. So a few people get alienated --
that's always a byproduct of a revolution, eh?

What cracks me up is this fetish with the "aesthetic" of the "printed book."
Remember, it's not how you present the words (stone tablets, wood, paper,
bathroom walls) that's important, it's the content of what gets presented
that counts. Online documentation is just another medium for presenting the
information. The next medium might be through holographic-subliminal
processing. Who knows? And when that happens, people will freak out and
object to that too!

Peter Lucas
Decade Software Company
Fresno, CA

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