Paper vs. PDF?

Subject: Paper vs. PDF?
From: "Geoff Hart (by way of \"Eric J. Ray\" <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>)" <ght -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Thu, 17 Dec 1998 03:10:34 -0700

David Thompson wondered <<Why is there a need for paper doc. to be
shipped with a software product? For example: I write the doc. in
Word, I convert it to PDF and put it on a CD. The final user can then
view the doc. or print the doc. if need be. Production costs are
reduced. No printing and lighter packages to ship. Am I over
simplifying the situation?>>

Yes, you're oversimplifying.

First off, I haven't yet found online docs to be broadly helpful.
That's a general rule of thumb, by the way. I'm sure good online help
exists somewhere, but I just haven't found it yet. (Caveat: I suspect
the problem is largely due to the fact that I've been around software
so long that I don't tend to encounter simple, "typical user"
problems, and the obscure problems often don't get documented.)

Second, when it comes time to sell the product, are you passing on
your savings on printing manuals to me, the customer? Generally not.
In fact, if you're like some companies I won't name, your private
Press division sells the missing documentation and turns it into a
profit center, thus charging me twice for the same information.

Third problem: I don't currently have a functional printer at home,
and haven't had one for a few months (waiting for Boxing Day!)... if I
need to print a copy of the docs to read in the bathroom, or to read
while I commute to work, what do I do until the new printer is up and
running? And at a cost of up to $0.05/page (if I'm unlucky enough to
own an inkjet printer), printing your 500-page PDF is going to cost
considerably more than simply buying some other company's "Xware for
Techwhirlers" manual.

All things considered,you might as well not ship the PDFs at all...
they're currently not going to do me any good, and you can bet I'm
going to have a much lower opinion of your company and product as a
--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Patience comes to those who wait."--Anon.

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