Re: PDF v paper
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,<fume>
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!
I get really incensed with this holier-than-thou attitude toward saving trees AT THE EXPENSE of serving the user. Our job as technical writers is to best serve the interests of our users. We are "user advocates" ultimately, and it behooves us to find and use methods that best help our users, however technically advanced they may be, find the information they need to use whatever it is that we're describing. Only after we have done our very best at that should other considerations, like presentation medium, be considered. I don't know of a single technical writer who was hired to save trees instead of creating manuals users liked.
That said, however, we must also be cognizant of the difference between users and customers - in other words, the difference between those who use our manuals and those who actually buy them. Users never get to see the manuals at all if the Purchase Req. isn't authorized.
IF you have a set of customers who are satisfied with delivery via CD-ROM or web page (and Sun has educated its customers to be so), AND IF you can make a case for online delivery being preferable to paper docs (such as the field service rep. carrying a CD-ROM of docs on a laptop) THEN you can feel justified in distributing your product docs online. Otherwise you run the risk of casting doubt about the credibility of your company's product.
Los Trancos Systems
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