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MStrickland
05-13-2005, 05:47 PM
I'm speaking here mostly from a technical perspective, and not so much about content. These ideas are the "little" things that make using a pdf file easier for the user. I remember a year or more ago, there was a lot of discussion about pdf's (somewhere, can't remember where), and it seems Newtek was listening and integrated many of the good ideas there, so KUDOS to the documentation folks at Newtek for this: particularly, the removal of the old security password to change the documents, which was done as of the 8.0 pfd, I think. GOOD MOVE! It allowed us to "customize" these documents for our own use, which has been a big plus here.

The hardest problem first: The current pdf documents in totality (8.0, 8.2 addendum, 8.3 addendum) are too long, making searches costly from a time perspective. I realize that there is a lot of ground to cover in Lightwave(!), and it's difficult to come up with a single workable suggestion that would allow them to be shorter. But here are some ideas to discuss:

1. Consider making the Reference Manual into smaller, separate documents, so a person could search, say, only in Layout, or only in Modeler. Of course, if they want to search the entire manual, they can place all the smaller pdf's into one directory (the smaller "Manual Parts" could be distributed inside a Docs directory), and tell Acrobat to search all the pdf's in that folder. This allows people to search multiple documents with ONE SEARCH. But the smaller docs would allow quicker searches, which would make the pdf's even more valuable than they are now.

Of course, when updates happen, the additional documentation would have a new layer of complexity, because of the newly added info. This might require a RE-release of each manual pdf-part whenever there are software updates, instead of the quick-and-easy-to-release-but-hard-on-the-user addendum releases we've been getting. However, given the critical nature of documentation to the success of Lightwave, this might not be a bad standard to set for future upgrades, even though it will be a bit more time to integrate new info into existing documentation added to software releases. I guess it depends on how important Newtek sees the documentation. Personally, it's a lifeline to useability for us, so its importance is right up there with the software itself.

2. If there is repetitive language needed in several parts of the docs (this was a terrible problem with 7.X docs if my memory serves, but has been cleaned up greatly for the 8.X docs), instead of repeating it X times, just include a link to it in one place, and after reading it a couple of times, the user can know what the link means, and skip over it.

?. That's all I can think of right now on doc length. It's not a huge problem YET; it's presently on the EDGE of unweildy, but it's not going to get better on its own, as Lightwave just keeps getting more and more complex. So addressing this will be REQUIRED sooner than later.

One "easy" fix: The latest pdf's use Bookmarks well. Good work! However, one time-consuming irritation is the page-magnification default of "actual size," which is coded into every bookmark. When a reader uses the Bookmarks, each time they click on one, no matter what size they had previously chosen for their ideal reading situation, the new page is always displayed at Actual Size. Unfortunately, this setting is not globally changeable after the bookmarks are created. So IF the user (like me, for instance) likes Fit Width, or Fit Height, or something else, it becomes a repetitive irritation (and therefore time-consuming) to constantly have to change the viewing size to one's preference for every single page in the document. For old guys like me, I either have to upgrade my glasses or be able to enlarge the page each time, in order to read it comfortably. The ideal default to choose WHEN BUILDING THE BOOKMARKS is "Inherit Zoom." With Inherit Zoom as the size setting for each bookmark, the reader only has to set the page size ONCE, and the document then respects that from then on -- a fabulous time-saver. All the Bookmark builder has to do is set up the first bookmark using Inherit Zoom, and then select the current settings as the DEFAULT for all subsequent bookmarks yet to be made, and the job is done.

Thanks for listening,
Michael

Chuck
05-24-2005, 03:02 PM
Thanks for the great suggestions, Michael, including the Inherit Zoom for bookmarks. I'll certainly recommend that we specify that for the next edition of the PDF.

Captain Obvious
05-24-2005, 03:30 PM
I'd say your problems are not with NewTek's PDFs but with Adobe's software. ;)

In all honesty, Acrobat Reader is a slouch. It's slow as molasses on downers. Even in the minimalistic "Preview" application in OS X, I can search through a 500-page PDF about as fast as I can type. Acrobat Reader is slower by an order of margin.

You could always try this (http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/rd_intro.php) to see if it's any better.

Dodgy
05-24-2005, 07:03 PM
I'd like to see more bookmarks, as the current set are a bit too coarse. Maybe have more subheadings? Like more sections for IKbooster and a sub-bookmark (if it's possible) for each and every Lscript command :) I spend half my programming time looking up one command or another to get syntax.... :)

Nice tool Captain... I think I'll use this at work! I'd like a multi listing search though :)

MStrickland
05-24-2005, 08:51 PM
If you have Acrobat you can easily add your own Bookmarks.

Michael

Dodgy
05-25-2005, 03:19 AM
For $299 I can add my own bookmarks! Whoopee :)