Re: Style Manuals (long?)

Subject: Re: Style Manuals (long?)
From: "Comeau, Lisa" <Lisa -dot- Comeau -at- MOH -dot- GOV -dot- ON -dot- CA>
Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 10:30:04 -0500

At the risk of having someone come out here and shoot me - or worse
(better?)set my office aflame, I must speak my piece. Please remember, I am
not trying to flame/insult anyone.

Bob said:
>I am preparing a proposal for Microsoft...it is clear that if you want a
Microsoft Certified software program (so the logo can be carried on the
package), you better follow as many of their guidelines as possible.
Especially when it comes to the GUI used in the application.

then Lynette said:

>>First, this seems unethical. Can Microsoft really determine the language
and terminology used because they've made the program?
And, if they can, then maybe they should just have their technical writers
come up with some generic documentation and everyone who's getting a
Microsoft Certified software program can sack their technical writers.

First of all, it seems as though you are talking about 2 completely
different things. One is about programming, the other is about manuals...as
far as I can tell.

If you are indeed writing a program you want MS Certified, OF COURSE they
have the right to tell you to follow their guidelines! That's like saying to
a schoolgirl "You can be admitted to our exclusive club, but you have to
make sure you always wear a blue ribbon, so everyone knows you're one of
us". The schoolgirl can choose to join, or not, as is her preference.

MS makes the guidelines so that people who buy software with their logo on
it can expect things to look and act in a consistent way. (Personally, if I
bought MS Crap for Windows, I would expect it to look like other
windows-based programs made by MS, not like a UNIX product...)

And yes, Lynette, MS CAN really determine the language and terminology used
because they've made the program - IF the documentation is being made to be
shipped with it. Sorry, but if I bought MS Crap for Windows version 67, I
would like the documentation to look as similar as the one that came with
it's predecessor, MS Crud for Windows version 3.5.

As for sacking TWs, I think that if we all come up with the attitude that
there should be no standards for documentation (even within a company's
products- which is essentially what I read as your objection)then do we
deserve to have jobs? Think of this from a user's perspective. The first
documentation you ever got with your first few programs - were instructions
easier to follow if they were laid out and worded roughly the same? Of
course they were. And I bet after following installation instructions for
one Windows-based program was easier the 2nd time around if you looked at
the documentation and it followed the same pattern as that for the last
software you installed.

Now, I don't love Mickeysoft any more or less than anyone, and I'm not
saying their "Style Guide" is the cat's meow, but I AM saying that we're
screaming about standards all the time, but when someone comes up with them
we run screaming just because we don't want to be "controlled" by some
multi-million dollar company.

The choice is easy - either follow standards that "come down from on high",
or don't write for the "exalted grand poohbah of software". Make the choice.
What's it gonna be? DO you want to follow rules, or make your own? This will
determine your decision as to where you want to work. And if you "have" to
work there, bite your tongue and do it their way until you have the cash to
make your OWN standards.

I'm done.
Let the vultures swarm in, I'm pretty tough carrion. (Thick skin's good for
that - Hint Hint...)

Lisa Comeau
Ontario, Canada
"I love to dance in the light of the TECHWR-L flames...it makes me feel
free..."
-attributed to a crazy techwhirler singed to death on afternoon in May

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=




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