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by Jim Karabatsos - GUI Computing
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<SOAPBOX>

I've had enough and I'm not going to take it any more!

Microsoft has created a really nice tool set in Visual Studio. At least, I think it has. You see, inside this very expensive box, you get five CDs that contain wonderful development tools (although the chances of my using Foxpro any time soon are about equivalent to a SNOBOL's chance in hell). You also get one puny little manual that is essentially a whirlwind tour of the product. All the documentation is on-line and, while I'm sure it's complete, I find that I need to spend too much time trying to figure out just how to approach these new technologies.

Well, I guess you could always buy a copy of the individual products you were interested in, right? Surely that would include the printed manuals? Well, sort of. I also own a separate VB5EE licence and yes, the box did include a set of printed manuals for VB5. Two very cool new features of VB5EE, however, are the included SQL Server and Transaction Server Developer Editions. You guessed it - no manuals.

I can't understand what is going on here. Where's the sense in shipping developer documentation with the retail product for SQL Server or Transaction Server? That documentation is needed by developers and you would think that it would be included in the developer editions. Well, wouldn't you?

Don't tell me about affordable software - I am as concerned about keeping the cost down as the next tightwad. However, I think that if someone were willing to spend $1600 dollars on a development tool, they'd be prepared to spend $1800 and get complete documentation for it in the box. This has to be preferable to spending one's time trying to find a decent third-party book amongst the deluge of very ordinary titles out there. In the worst case scenario, make it an optional documentation pack. "Will you have the manuals with that, sir?"

I try really hard to stay up to date with what is going on. The fact that you are reading this probably means that you are in the same boat. I need a manual that I can read in the train or in bed or in a coffee shop. I don't mind if the reference material is on-line - in fact, I like it there - but the material that explains concepts, especially new concepts, must be supplied in paperware format.

We can reverse this trend. When Borland shipped Delphi 2, there was a justified outcry about the lack of quality documentation. Developers kept the pressure on, and with the release of Delphi 3 they were rewarded with documentation that finally does the product justice.

So let Microsoft know that you want the manuals. Send e-mail to vbwish@microsoft.com with the message:

GIVE ME THE FINE MANUALS!!!

</SOAPBOX>



Written by: Jim Karabatsos
July '97

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