Google Blogoscoped

Forum

Google Apps: The Missing Manual, and More  (View post)

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

Monday, June 2, 2008
11 years ago3,613 views

While there's some value in books like these and it's nice to have a lot of structured information in a single place, I think most of the content from "The Missing Manual" is already available in Google's help centers (google.com/support). Maybe Google should create a "Factory Tour" site that highlights what you can do with its services and how these services can be used together, while pointing to the appropriate articles from the help center.

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Ionut, you're absolutely right and this concerned me too. However, some users just prefer to read all this information from structured books. (Particularly those who have less experience with online help and support systems or the Internet in general.)

/pd [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

I agree with you Tony, there are Users that assimilate /learn directly from books. An identical copy will be available online, but they prefer will print and read up.. Its is not a short coming, rather it the minds strategy to harvest information. Maybe its get a genetic thing, but books do have value .

Secondly, a Manual for google service will soon be required. google themselves are getting into the SaaS mode with their hosted services and app's. Every sysadmin person always has sys binders for reference purpose :)-

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Yes, but Google's services change too frequently to create a manual that won't be outdated in 6 months or a year. The online help is searchable, always up-to-date and one click away from any Google service. It's also free and, in some cases, translated in other languages.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

all the more reason for the online manual to always be updated and available with the latest info then sysadmin's can download and print the manual.

==>"The online help is searchable and always up-to-date."

Ok, what happens if my internet outbound service is down ? yet my intranet is still up ? will searchable online be useful to me ?

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Most Google services require an online connection, so it doesn't make sense to need help for a service you can't use (because your Internet connection is down). Besides, Google's help files can be easily downloaded:
googlesystem.blogspot.com/2008 ...

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Ionut, not everybody will read the book while they're sitting in front of the computer though. Some people like to read and digest manuals rather than read them alongside the products and services that the manual describes.

Furthermore, I'd argue that Google's help files aren't always up to date (although, arguably they may be more up to date in the future than the book), they don't always have a good structure that makes them easy to follow (if you download the lot) and they contain lots of bits of information that aren't interesting to most people.

Reto Meier [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Thanks for the shout-out Tony!

Once again Blogoscoped has scooped me on my own project :)

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

The outdating of tech tips & help is not just a challenge with books, but also blog archives (you can sporadically add an update but try keeping your full archive up-to-date...). I would think publishers are aware of the issue and if a book is becoming very popular but risks becoming outdated, they can print it in an updated 2nd version. Of course, Google in 2008 might have one of the fastest changing product offerings of any tech company... their interface just doesn't sit still even for some months, I remember the Google Docs interface changed not once but several times in the course of writing Google Apps Hacks.

Ionut, a question, if a publisher would ask you to write a book with them on the subject of Google, would you reject this or consider it? You are undoubtedly a Google expert and while you might not agree, I think many people love to have information available in books, which can be carried around, easily flipped through, allow for long reading sessions and so on (I recently bought a book on JavaScript even when there's probably millions of pages available on the subject). And if you would consider this, which formats or approaches would you think help tackle the issue?

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

I think it's interesting to write a book that describes the evolution of Google (something like The Search, but focused on individual services). I'm sure there are a lot of interesting stories behind Gmail, Google Maps or even Google Sets. The specific features could be integrated in a story and they'll be documented from a historical perspective.

Satan [PersonRank 6]

11 years ago #

I would also like to note that the core information doesn't become useless overnight. Sure, some things will change, but books like this are usually useful for a while.

Above all, books have STRUCTURE. Something I miss from blogs and 90% of websites out there.

Reto Meier [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

I tend to agree with Satan, structure and cohesiveness is something books offer that's often less apparent in online help sites. Often their comprehensiveness gets in the way – if I want to learn about the principles behind a particular API I don't want to be distracted by all the syntax and method references.

The biggest challenge / reward I have writing PAAD is structuring all the information into a something with a kind of narrative structure that makes it more than just a list of instructions and API references.

Also as Tony says, sometimes it's nice to be able to learn more about something without having to be in front of the computer. As to going out of date – it's an old problem that publishers are working on through online PDF chapter updates and regular revisions.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

ok let me get this straight.. .. Lets say a company has bought the Google Mini. and wants it to be deployed.. so will or wont there be a Manual to support that stage of commissioning ?

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

/pd, I get what you're saying but the "Google Apps: The Missing Manual" book doesn't cover the Google Mini... ;-)

This thread is locked as it's old... but you can create a new thread in the forum. 

Forum home

Advertisement

 
Blog  |  Forum     more >> Archive | Feed | Google's blogs | About
Advertisement

 

This site unofficially covers Google™ and more with some rights reserved. Join our forum!