Montag, 1. Dezember 2008

Read the same paragraphs every half year?

I really wanted to read the Fedora 10 Release Notes, but when I did I quickly got distracted. Later I asked myself why and gave it a second try with the goal: watch closely why you got distracted.

I first noticed that I had missed the brief overview at the bottom of the first page. I simply had hit "Next" on the top of the first page, as I expected it to be just the index, like it's iirc is in so many multiple-page howtos -- abs is just a random example here.

I further noticed that the text it a bit hard to read, as all the links are written in plain text within the text -- so you have to skip them with the eyes when you try to read continuously. To stress this a bit more compare yourself, which to you think is quicker and easier to read:
I then got to section 2.1 and read: "Anaconda is the name of the Fedora installer. This section outlines issues related to Anaconda and installing Fedora 10." I don't like the bold writing -- I find is distracting. But I know, some people like that. The real problem is something else and gets even more obvious in the whole section 2.1.1: Most if not all existing Fedora users know all of that already.

And that IMHO is the big problem of the whole release notes. Sure, these information are important for new Fedora users and hence they need to be written somewhere. But these information are just boring for all the existing Fedora users out there. The new information between all the old and well know stuff on the other hand is very important to existing Fedora users -- we want them to read it (which most do not afaics). Thus I'm really wondering if we should provide a second version of the release notes that only provides information that are really new -- then users that come from the previous release only have to read that document, which like is a lot shorter.

I'm not even sure how hard it would be to create that section release note set -- maybe running a diff over the old and new version, cut'n'past the relevant paragraphs where something important changed and put them into one document.

P.S.: Another thing that I dislike in the Fedora 10 Release Notes: Why isn't there a single-page version online that would make searching something a whole lot easier. Example: I knew there was a paragraph in the release notes regarding the flash-plugin. Hence i browsed to the Fedora 10 Release Notes Index, typed "/flash" in Firefox to find it, but failed. I tried some other keywords like "plugin" and failed as well. After a while I gave up and asked Google with the search term "flash-plugin site:" -- then I quickly found what I was looking for. Works, but only is you know how to use Google properly :-/

1 Kommentar:

David Timms hat gesagt…

I agree with the deja-vu that occurs when a long timer Fedora user reads a new release note.

1. For every item, mark the item with the Fedora release where it was added.
2. Add a couple of buttons "Show New in Fedora 10", and "Show complete release notes".
3. Default to New in Fedora 10.
4. Use an outlining web util, document lists heading for old release note information, content is hidden.
Provide an icon next to each heading to open up the titled section into their full text.

Perhaps mediawiki has such powers ?

The other thing that w3c vetoed is frame based display. Despite the inaccessibility and print problems, for a document like this it would be much simpler to use: eg contents in a frame on the left, click an item and that item - preferably less than a typical user's screen height is loaded inthe body area.