your thoughts on screenshots?
kwade at redhat.com
Tue Mar 20 19:46:22 UTC 2007
I was explaining something this morning that I thought all could benefit
from. I want to convince writers to avoid using screenshots. What do
you think of this?
Here are the reasons:
* They are hard to translate.
* They have to be redone every time there is a change in the UI (string
or graphical change).
- This comes from the rule, "Make certain what you tell/show the
reader is 100% accurate to what they see on the screen, or the reader
loses trust in you."
- Changing text that refers to a UI is *much* easier to fix and
translate than the same change in a screenshot.
* They take up a lot of space on the screen/on paper.
* They don't show anything more than the reader is already looking at in
the application on their computer screen.
* At most, they confirm for the reader, "Yes, I see the same thing in
the documentation as I do on the screen, I am in the right place." This
can be done with words alone.
* A description of a screen takes up less space than a screenshot.
* Since we do not want our documents to be a catalog of what can be done
in a UI screen, we're never interested in everything visible to the
reader. We're interested in only a subset of what is in the UI.
Showing the entire UI in a screenshot is therefore distracting.
* A screenshot is not the same as a diagram or other useful graphic.
Okay, what are the advantages of using a screenshot?
* Useful if the reader cannot read the language of the document; the
screen shows them they are in the right place.
* Useful if the reader believes they cannot follow a document without
* Nice for desktop tours, to show what applications look like.
* Useful for when you need to define a specific term on the desktop, as
in the FDUG where the elements of the desktop are explained with a
graphic to show which piece it is.
I would like to make this part of our guidelines. What do you all
Karsten Wade, RHCE, 108 Editor ^ Fedora Documentation Project
Sr. Developer Relations Mgr. | fedoraproject.org/wiki/DocsProject
quaid.108.redhat.com | gpg key: AD0E0C41
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