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Re: Rumour: FM really is dead

At 09:28 AM 12/5/03 -0500, Larry.Kollar@arrisi.com wrote:
>the needs of many
>technical writers have moved out from under Frame. In
>many industries, long technical manuals are being
>replaced by shorter topic-based documents with hyperlink
>and search capabilities, printed manuals are an after-
>thought if that. [I realize that for many industries,
>this isn't the case... yet.]
Q. How many of you long-time frame users still frequently refer to your 
copy of the V5.1 Using FrameMaker guide because the printed guides produced 
by Adobe since then are worthless?

Q. How many of you believe the index in the FrameMaker on-line Help is 
superior to the index in that V5.1 user guide?

Q. How many of you believe the time it takes to find a needed nugget of 
information in Frame's on-line help is less than the time it takes to find 
that same nugget in the V5.1 user guide?

Q. How many of you, upon installing Acrobat, immediately print out the 600+ 
page Acrobat Guide? I already know the answer: Nobody.

Q. Since you don't print out the entire Acrobat Guide, is that because it 
is so excellently designed that you can always quickly find the answers to 
all your questions, even though the Guide lacks an Index, because Acrobat 
Search is so much superior to a well-designed index?

Q. How many of you believe you'd be better off if Adobe had included, in 
the box, a properly designed and indexed printed version of the Acrobat 
guide, and if that document had been provided, the volume of traffic on the 
two Framer's lists would be substantially reduced?

Q. How many of you believe that Microsoft Products such as Word, Excel, 
Access, and PowerPoint do not require printed documentation?

Q. How many of you, upon installing a new software product that comes 
without any printed documentation, immediately go to B&N or Borders to see 
whether some 3rd-party publication house offers a printed manual for that 
software product?

Q. How many of you believe that, as a result of the trend away from printed 
documentation, the old adage of RTFM has been replaced by fuggedaboudit?

Q. How many of you believe that the $%@# little wizard that shows up when 
you open Microsoft Weird is one of the greatest forward steps in human 
history since Guttenberg invented the printing press?

Q. If everything you need is on-line, why is it that sales of printed books 
about computers and computer products, as well as the sales of computer 
printers, printer cartridges, and printer paper continue to rise at an 
exponential rate?

Q. If your answers to these questions are what I predict, then how do you 
reconcile Larry's accurate description of the current trends in technical 
writing with the reality of user needs for printed documentation? When 
contemplating that conundrum, does the phrase "Cognitive Dissonance" 
instantly pop into your head?

FrameMaker/FrameMaker+SGML Document Design & Database Publishing
DW Emory <danemory@globalcrossing.net>

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