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Re: Very pleased..



On 29 Oct 1996, Mikael Reichel wrote: 
 
> Wich are the best  or  worst manuals around? What makes a really good manual?

IMHO:  Of course, there are two aspects of this question:  Operational 
vs. Technical.  I would say that, as an engineer, every technical manual 
has its stylistic quirks:  Sony vs. BTS vs. Rank, etc.  Once you learn 
how to drive the manual, you're half-way home.  I still have trouble 
negotiating the BTS manuals.  Some of the trouble is in the translation 
with both Sony and BTS.  The old, pre-Digi 4 Rank manuals come to mind as 
amoung the worst to deal with - inputs and outputs could come from any 
corner of the page!  Lack of detail and inclusiveness when describing 
operational features seems to be a pretty standard stumbling block with 
most manufacturers.  Couple this with technical writers assuming that 
you know what they mean without considering a new users perspective, and 
mass confusion and multiple phone calls are the result.  In many 
facilities, the job of decyphering new equipment manuals falls to the 
engineers.  The Evertz 4025 manuals have so much information, in 
contrast, that an operator once handed it to me and said, "Just tell me 
what I *need* to know!"  (I distilled it down to a two-page print-out.)

A good operations manual has to have:  1) A good table of contents; 2) A 
great index; 3) Clear, concise yet complete desciptions of all 
operational features in language that the average user will be able to 
interpret accurately.  

A good technical manual has to have:  1)  A good table of contents; 2) 
Clear circuit descriptions; 3) Accurate schematics which show signal flow 
from left to right on the page, and which are not a jumbled mess, without 
too many "jumps" to a different page to continue the diagram; 4) Block 
diagrams; 5) Sectional dividers for all subsystems and their 
corresponding circuits.

Ralph Edwards
Freelance Rank Engineer