Windows help article in Feb. Dr. Dobb's Journal

Subject: Windows help article in Feb. Dr. Dobb's Journal
From: Fred Wersan <wersan -at- ZEUS -dot- MA30 -dot- BULL -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 9 Jan 1995 07:45:12 EST

original and comments from Dave Citron:
: To me, writing Help is a one-step process for software developers:

: 1. Hire a good technical writer.

You said it!

: Feedback and comments are appreciated.

If the excerpts quoted weren't so insulting and stupid, they'd be funny.

And they wonder why software documentation has such a poor reputation!

Well, yes and no....

I'm all for developers hiring writers, but I'm thinking about the shareware
developer selling a product for $15 - 30. Can this person afford a writer?
If a greater variety of tools will give the developer more options for creating
Help files, is that so bad? The Help file will probably be the only documen-
tation that ships with the product. Anything that gets the developer to spend
less time on the mechanics and more time on the writing will be to the benefit
of the file.

The proliferation of Help authoring tools is a challenge to all writers. Where
even a year or two ago, building help files was an arcane task, the differen-
tiator now is not so much your understanding of secret codes, but your ability
to produce well written and organized Help. We all have to compete on the
quality of the end product. There is enough poor Help out there that this
shouldn't be too daunting a task. Companies that are truly user oriented will
find their way to the one-step process mentioned in the original posting.

Fred Wersan fwersan -at- peritus -dot- com
Peritus Software Services, MA30/807
300 Concord Rd., Billerica, MA 01821

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