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Product documentation takes many forms. While there is a big move toward on-line documentation, printed manuals are the correct solution in many cases.

Printed manuals

Printed documentation is necessary for many products. It provides a method of communication that doesn’t rely on a functioning computer, and it provides a tangible item that helps establish the value of your product.

On-screen documents

On screen documents are used in addition to, or in some cases, instead of printed documentation. As users’ comfort with reading information from the computer screen increases, we see more and more applications of on-screen documentation.

On-screen documents are available in several formats including Windows Help, HTML Help, HTML, and Adobe Acrobat documents.

  • Conventional Windows Help (also known as WinHelp) has evolved through several generations. Help for a Windows 95 product is very different from the help created for Windows 3.x products.
  • Windows 98 introduces HTML Help. This new type of Windows help provides several advantages, and, because it is relatively new, has several limitations. Based on HTML, it provides more formatting flexibility. Being new, it doesn’t offer all the cross-reference capabilities of WinHelp.
  • HTML documents provide a true cross-platform solution to on-line documentation. They provide a natural solution for Java (and other) applications that run on multiple platforms.
  • Adobe Acrobat documents provide on-screen representations of printed documents. They provide a compromise between a true on-screen document and a printed document. It’s easy to print an Adobe Acrobat document, but because they are page-based, they don’t always provide the best on-screen viewing experience.

 

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