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Re: An interesting blog by Matt Zimmerman touches on docs


On Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 2:38 PM, Jim Campbell <jwcampbell@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> On Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 1:50 PM, Jason Cook <jason@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>> The reason it may be a problem is that often when I don't have an internet
>> connection, I need to know how to use an applications that have not yet
>> learned how to use or am experiencing problems with. Though most are
>> self-explanatory, some app are more complex and, when using this method, I
>> can't use them or solve the problem until I get and internet connection. As
>> I previously mention, if there was an easy way to download the documentation
>> for  offline use, then this method would work. Until there is a way
>> to access the internet from *everywhere* this, at least in my opinion,
>> this won't work.
> There seems to be some concern that Ubuntu would not ship any non-web-based
> desktop help.  I want to stress that this would not be the case.  Moreover,
> keep in mind that much of the help that is on the system comes from upstream
> application developers.  So, if I work on the gedit docs, and the gedit docs
> get shipped with gedit . . .  You would have gedit docs on disk.
> Now, I might see some issues with a gradual drift of application developers
> of putting more of their help online rather than including it on-disk.  That
> is up to the application developers (e.g., the shotwell documentation is all
> on the shotwell website).  It's also up to KDE and Gnome to drive those
> kinds of decisions at the application level.
> Consider the needs of a server administrator, though.  The server docs are
> not easily viewable on a server, and the server docs aren't in a format that
> is easily searchable on the web.  Having a well-updated support website
> could make things easier for that person.  Also, consider a scenario where
> an Ubuntu upgrade causes a problem on certain computers.  Right now people
> hear about fixes through blogs and forum posts, but perhaps an update could
> be quickly put up on the support website to let people know how to fix the
> problem, and people could be directed there.
> Or let's say that you get an error in your application, and you search for
> it on the support center website.  Perhaps the site could say, "We didn't
> find anything on that error - would you like to file a bug report?"

Errr... also direct them to the forums, irc, mailing lists, etc.  : )

And don't forget that web queries can be analyzed to look for where users
are having trouble.  The Mozilla Sumo team gets frequent reports on what
users are searching for, pointing them to where users are getting stuck and
needing help.  This helps them to create docs that users are really asking

> I do think we'll have to work out how to make sure that user help for
> Ubuntu-specific apps like the Software Center is available both locally and
> on the web, (though I'm not sure how well the Software Center functions
> without web access . . . ), but those kinds of things can be done.
> Jim