There was a time in the not too distant past when each release of a software program came with a printed manual. The ones from Inmagic, featuring a cover with Helga adding to the information highway, were well-thumbed treasures, enhanced with highlighter pens, sticky notes, doodles or emblazoned with the owners name. They were taken to their owners beds, savoured on the bus, and even treated to long lingering baths. Such was the life of a prized manual before the age of the green economy.
Librarians and archivists seemed to be particularly obsessed with these print manuals and rue the day when they were no longer shipped. Did we ever hear about it! But there are PDF versions produced we announced or online help available at the click of a button; where you need it, when you need it. To please some users, we even went so far as to print and bind the manuals from the PDF version. Thankfully, it seemed that most users resigned to accept this change in technology and moved on.
When the last PDF version of the DB/TextWorks manual was published for version 9, but no longer shipped with the product, we put up a link on our website, so that students and new users could still have the pleasure of reading and yes, occasionally printing sections to take on delightful little trips. We were asked if there was going to be an update, when versions 10, 11 and 12 were released, but alas there were none.
With the release of Version 13, a new age has dawned. It’s back to the future. Inmagic has decided to produce a PDF version of the Help file. There should be joy in the land again. This gem can be found on the Inmagic Extranet under Product Documentation. It is fully searchable with your PDF reader and you can even print all 425 pages if you want. Inmagic has even called it a “Printed Help File” to somehow appease the paper-hungry crowd. However, to save trees, you might just read and search this on your computer or perhaps just print small parts of it, double-sided.
Also with the release of version 13, DB/TextWorks online help is now using a WebHelp format. This format is compatible with the newer Microsoft operating systems, and can be accessed from the server hosting DB/TextWorks in a multi-user environment.
I would love to hear feedback on printed vs. online manuals. Do you still dream of owning a printed DB/TextWorks manual? What is your favourite manual story? Did you ever leave your copy on a bus or drop it in the tub?