Re: Minimal doc (was admin: PC vs. Mac)

Subject: Re: Minimal doc (was admin: PC vs. Mac)
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- SIMPLYWRITTEN -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 1998 09:53:31 -0500

>AlQuin wrote:
>>I think this is another example of a minimal documentation approach: just
>>describe the exceptions, the very occasionals (errors, hazards, etc) and
>>make the machine, procedure, etc as self-evident as possible.
>>Only then your manuals will be used effectively.
>>Ever saw a user manual to use a chair...?

Even more to the point, however, is that the Mac is NOT a chair, although
its proponents would say so. We have a PowerMac here and I can tell you that
the documentation is utterly and absurdly inadequate when bad things happen.
The problem is that "minimal documentation" has been misintepreted to mean
"cut it to the bone". That's not what it was intended to mean. Minimalism
means "just enough and no more". Don't pad it. Don't use it to thump the
chest or ramble on. Analyze user needs and capabilities and provide just
that much. The Mac manual is a case in point; it's used more as a checklist
item and PR booklet than anything else. When our Mac burped and died, the
manual-cum-brochure was completely useless. I had to resort to (again!) a
third-party book and a friend and fellow techwhirler to help. Apple was
guilty of not analyzing my needs, but only assuming them.

Tim Altom
Adobe Certified Expert, Acrobat
Simply Written, Inc.
The FrameMaker support people
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