Re: Comments on On-Line Docs

Subject: Re: Comments on On-Line Docs
From: Sue Heim <SUE -at- RIS -dot- RISINC -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 12 May 1995 09:22:37 PST

Arlen quoted Mr. Santos (Infoworld) with:

> 1) I believe most documentation is completed after the software product is
> finished. So for many vendors there is a tendency and a temptation to release
> the software product without the manual.

Hello? I don't know about any other vendors, but all of the software
vendors I have ever worked for absolutely never released product (for
sale) without docs. Beta test, yes. Production release, no. There
have been occasions when the release of a product was delayed (thank
heavens not lately) due to the fact that a manual wasn't completed or
back from the printer yet. Including a manual is an integral part of
the complete software package.

> 2) There is a major difference between a new product release and an upgrade or
> mature product release without manuals.

When I do an upgrade release, I include an addendum that is to be
used with the manual. At that time, the online help is updated to
reflect all that is included in the addendum.

> 3) On-line documentation increases illegal duplication.

This may be, but I think that, in this day and age, folks are less
likely to illegally obtain a copy of software (at least, most
companies now are self-policing regarding illegal software). Illegal
duplication or use is a concern of ours, as a software dev co, but it
doesn't cause the exclusion of online docs.

> 4) Support costs are higher when manuals are removed. Increased phone support
> required, and you will find an increase in on-line forum messages with
> rudimentary questions.

Now *this* I would agree with!!

> What do you think, all ye SW doc-ers out there? Has he a point, or has he only
> exposed the one on his head?

Hmm... Arlen, I think it was the one on his head that was exposed...!

Sue Heim
Research Information Systems
Email: Sue -at- ris -dot- risinc -dot- com

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