The value of installation guides

I was updating the installation guide today. This is not one of my favourite tasks. Obviously, I have to install the software as often as possible, on as many different operating systems as possible, locally and on a network and so on and so on. (Did you say that sounds like testing? You’d be right.)

I wonder how many people ever look at an installation guide these days? Download the program and there it is. Perhaps you might have a CD or DVD drive with a disk that needs installing, but mostly it is an unnecessary item.

Except for all the other messages it carries. What to do when things go wrong. What your license number is. Whether the company is solid, reliable, reassuring. Some of this is to do with human emotions. Although we may be suspicious of marketing, we still succumb to it, the weight and glossiness of an object. The sense that somehow it has value. The booklet is the only tangible evidence that we have that we have bought something. It must represent the value that we have paid.

I haven’t mentioned much about the developers lately. This is because they all have the “heads down, arses up” aspect of extreme concentration before the release date approaches. The steady ones are getting more frazzled: Ian, normally calm in all situations, is drinking more coffee than usual. Nick is going straight from work to rehearsals. Loadsoftime Jack seems to have realised that there isn’t loads of time, and is frantically flip-flopping between all the different bugs that he is fixing and introducing. And GandD are both very happy. There is a very very big contract in the offing. Yes, the re-organisation of the NHS, so disturbing to so many, has been a wonderful gift to them.

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