User manual update

Does anyone else feel the same ?

I don’t really want to add more work for Flavio, but since v3.3 there’s a lot that have changed, and there’s a couple of things that I’m sure I’m missing because of it.

If Flavio’s gonna have time for it is obviously another story…

Does anyone feel that this can be a ‘community driven’ thing (like on the wiki) ?

What do you guys think ?

W.

I’m a manual person… I need a manual… and one that is up to date. I do recording sessions where there is no internet available. So wikis, etc are not a solution. I need a printed manual with me at all times.

I want my MTV!! (manual to view).

There’s no reason why you couldn’t print a wiki manual. You can construct a page that includes other pages, so every manual page would display at once (by Mediawiki templates). All we would have to do is just write the manual topic by topic, after that we could just put the printable version together in five minutes. I’m currently involved in a similar project where we are writing a manual for a sequencing program. Of course, this requires knowledgeable people that are willing to share their wisdom and contribute to the manual writing.

How to make a topic in wiki?
1. register
2. write your page name to the address bar like this: Change
"http://www.fasoft.com/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page" to "http://www.fasoft.com/wiki/index.php?title=New_Page"
3. click “edit” tab
4. write your text
5. save it

Done!

A well written manual is a work of art. The current manual is and has been one that I’ve gone to on several occasions… It answered my questions and gave me something to try at times when it never really answered the resolve I went looking for… The difference between a good-or-right adjective or verb is the difference between a manual that works and one that doesn’t or asks more questions than it answers…

A good manual needs to have an editor with a good command of the language it’s written it… Especially the English Language…

In my opinion, the n-Track Manual would be best served/compiled by an editor/person that would have no previous knowledge of what a “Multi-Track Editor” is-or-does… A number of writers could assemble the drafts and feed them to the editors… If and when the manual gets completed that person(s) would know exactly how to use n-Track, and manufacture audio tracks… with a DAW. And sucessfully create audio tracks and navigate with-in n-track using the manual… That would be a well written manual …in my opinion… A properly written manual would be a great asset for n-Track…

Bill…

Sure, but who is the person who says, this is proper and this is not? Isn’t it true that there are many people in these forums, who’s advice and knowledge you would trust?

For me, writing is not just typing, it’s a process. My writings are almost never complete by first write. In wiki, you have more brains working on the same subjects, more people reading the texts through, more people that edit text. It’s difficult for a writer to see his own mistakes and make text that is good for everybody to read. That’s why wiki is a great thing, it makes collaboration possible. Let me put it this way; would you rather make Flavio write you manuals than coding new features/ fixing bugs?

Quote (Scythe @ Oct. 13 2006,23:02)
Sure, but who is the person who says, this is proper and this is not? Isn’t it true that there are many people in these forums, who’s advice and knowledge you would trust?

For me, writing is not just typing, it’s a process. My writings are almost never complete by first write. In wiki, you have more brains working on the same subjects, more people reading the texts through, more people that edit text. It’s difficult for a writer to see his own mistakes and make text that is good for everybody to read. That’s why wiki is a great thing, it makes collaboration possible. Let me put it this way; would you rather make Flavio write you manuals than coding new features/ fixing bugs?

Hi Scythe:
I hate to say it… but there are kids coming out of high school and college and universities that don’t know their numbers-and-letters… But can they ever use their text message machines… Did you ever see some of their massages? It’s not even short-hand… It a whole new language… Now if we had one of them kids write us an n-Track manual we’d be in trouble right from the “Get-Go”…


Sure, but who is the person who says, this is proper and this is not? Isn’t it true that there are many people in these forums, who’s advice and knowledge you would trust?

*

The difference in one-or-two words in a sentence is the difference of understanding what you read and putting IT into practice…

I used to like working on American made electronic equipment… But (Most times) when I opened the manual I used to shake my head… The first thing you do with a American written manual is… Chuck-It-Out… They don’t want you fix’in their stuff, anyway… They want you to buy a new one…

On the other hand… a British or European made machine (whatever). goes… If you can get it apart and understand what’s in there… You’re-a-Surgeon…

If it’s a German Manual… Forget IT… If it’s a British written Manual. You still don’t understand what you’re seeing but the manual leaves nothing to the “Understanding”…

I think the Editing process is important enough that the process of editing is done by a team of people that argues over what the written word means… as opposed to what the written word is saying… Well… something like that…

After-the-Fact…

If the manual is written in English…

If-and-When 7 out 10 laymen can understand what the sentence says, then the editors have done their job… in a manual…

I can write perfectly well in 'Bluenose English"… But I don’t write very well in “Red-Neck” English…

Bill…

The problem as I see it is the program is outrunning my ability to use some of the features. Ntrack is a wonderful program, but “discovering” how a feature works - that’s a problem. Who wrote the manuals in the past?
I have written several manuals, workbooks designed to help middle school students understand how to use computer software. I did it because so much of the material from the software manufacturer was written by people who assumed that the user had a history with the software or the technology and would understand terms and actions unique to the application.
I do think a manual could be written by a group of users, but it would have to be organized. The program would need to be broken down into segments and designated as the place to send instructions and suggestions and a “supervisor” set up to proof each section. If this is done on a “everyone can post” basis, it will be messy and very difficult to compile. I think that “supervisor” would have to have the patience to walk through each section following step-by-step to make certain the program actually worked that way - to many copies of the same feature/action and just editing become an overwhelming process. But properly setup - it could be wonderful. This also would generate some suggestions to Flavio for improvements to the usablity of the program.
Bax

Interesting ideas…

The collaborative idea was the first thing that came to my thoughts too - let Flavio get on with the software and the community here can create the documentation (via the Wiki or other techniques).

I design software for a software house and we prefer our manuals to be written by someone divorced from the software creation process because normally an “outside view” is better.

We also tend to create our manuals as “how to” guides rather than pages full of screenshots and icons with a description of what each and every menu item does. In n-Track-speak this would mean sections on, for example, “how to setup my soundcard”, “how to use scrub”, “how to use Aux busses for effects”… that kind of thing. Anyway, something to think about.

X
.
.

One of the main factors that made my decision to buy into the n-Track experience, way back in the 2.x era, was the manual. IMHO it has been - and still is - well written. Unfortunately, though, it is very outdated.

Regarding the discussion about whether a wiki (or some form of controlled chaos of documentation) can substitute for a well written manual, it is true different people learn with different techniques. I’m one of those wired for a well written manual that I can print out, put in a binder, then curl up on the couch and mull over the material and nuances of what the program can actually do. Then, when I’m involved in a recording session (usually somewhere where internet isn’t) or doing sound for a live gig and run into problems, I can quickly dig out that manual and know where to look for the answers (yes I carry the manuals for all my hardware, and n-
track, etc.). A wiki or help file, etc cannot replace a well written manual in that situation.

Bill stated it well. It must be written so that most of us can understand. Then if someone wants to, they could translate it into “bluenose” or even “limey”.

bax3 has a good idea regarding a group of users taking on specific aspects of the program. I remember that learjeff and others collaborated on the signal path chart which Flavio later incorporated into the manual. That chart is invaluable, but alas, outdated due to all the changes Flavio has made. What about resurrecting that project and bringing that up to date?

Paul

Hi vanclan:
This afternoon, I had what I thought to be a nice reply going, when all-of-a-sudden my machine took a “Blue Screen” memory dump and I lost my thoughts and almost took a fire axe to this P-111 machine…

For any of you who haven’t as yet, go to the Help>about tab and just let it scroll… You’ll see a bunch of names that Flavio has given credit to in the early development of n-track… I was watching the bata builds way back around “899-or-so”… Then all-of-a-sudden, v1.0 got posted… Some of you may remember the year… I think it was about '97-'98…

Anyway, credit is given to the “Manual Writer” as well as many others that have given input and support over the years… I think the original concept of n-Track was to allow multi-track recording and mixing using Audio cards like Creative Audio Sound Blaster type cards… and to render multiple wave files to a two-track product at a reasonable price…

Well, there you have it…

Having said that… this manual is gonna take a lot of dedication and long hours of hard work to assemble and produce a working version…

The type of person(s) required to do this needs to have some pretty good to excellent communication skills as well as some current day musical abilities together with some current recording/control room knowledge and lots of mental patients and the ability to let tough language slide off your back… and not to get “Cabin Fever” when things get tough…

Among other things…

Bill…

woxnerv: You bring up a very good point about cultural communication. What is clear to germans, isn’t for british. And vice versa. But what could be a better place to counter these problems than wiki? There are lots of editors from different countries.

You are concerned about the quality of community generated manual. Well, what do you think about wikipedia? Do you consider it unreliable?

Then again, of course you should be conserned. Without policies, rules and guidelines, it’s useless to try to create good content. At the moment, N-Track wiki has none of these, it’s a mess basically. Everyone can do anything. I have a set of rules for a similar project here:



Rules of the wiki
o The user agrees to follow the rules as he registers, they will be enforced among the users. Statements that inhibit abusive behaviour in the site. Breaking of these rules may result in edit-block of a certain time period or permanent ban from the site.
o Rule 1: Do not use this wiki to unrelated advertising. This includes, but is not limited to, linking to commercial sites that do not relate to tracking or music.
o Rule 2: Respect other contributors. Treating others with respect is the key to collaborating effectively. Avoid making personal attacks, be civil; avoid lame edit wars.
o Rule 3: Don’t infringe copyrights[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_infringement].

Guidelines of the wiki
o Statements that support good construction of the pages and keeping out of trouble.
o GL 1: Be bold in editing, moving, and modifying articles, because the joy of editing is that although it should be aimed for, perfection isn’t required. And don’t worry about messing up. All prior versions of articles are kept, so there is no way that you can accidentally damage this wiki or irretrievably destroy content. But remember – whatever you write here will be preserved for posterity.
 You agree to allow others to modify your work. So let them do it.

o GL 2: When in doubt, take it to the talk page [link].
o GL 3: Decent edit summaries. Write about what you changed and why. A summary is necessary when editing a page fundamentally; correcting an error in content or adding new chapters.
o GL 4: Signing. Sign on talk pages but don’t sign on mainspace articles.
o GL 5: Naming pages. Article naming should give priority to what the majority of English speakers worldwide would most easily recognize, with a reasonable minimum of ambiguity, while at the same time making linking to those articles easy and second nature.
o (Wikipedia, Policies and guidelines, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Policies_and_guidelines)

When you think about the options, think about resources. Where is this professionally trained manual writer that wants to do the whole thing free, by himself?

Well, I guess the vote speaks for itself :). Sure, when the alternatives are: 1. “Give me the manual ready made”, 3. “Let’s make the manual by ourselves” :P. Ok, we’re paying so why bother?

Answering myself: surely Flavio would do the manual. Not for free though, it’s him working few days with it. Maybe it’s better that way?

Frankly, I think it’s a duty of the manufacturer and distributor of the product to provide a manual for it.

We are paying for the product, we should have instructions how to use it.

Quote (varakeef @ Oct. 19 2006,14:22)
Frankly, I think it's a duty of the manufacturer and distributor of the product to provide a manual for it.

We are paying for the product, we should have instructions how to use it.

I agree to that. Only the developer knows the internal "wiring" of the program.

But the users can help by adding tips n tricks, etc.

And then, there's this awesome forum - a value added feature you don't get with other software...

Paul