Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Longest Quick Reference Ever

This week I wanted to run an EDA tool that I don't run every day. I needed to look up a command line option, and found that, inexplicably, the option wasn't listed by the program's help option.

So, I trudged over to the online documentation and was happy to find the Tool X Quick Reference manual. I figured it'd be a couple of pages long and I'd print it out and keep it next to my computer.

Well I was shocked (shocked, I tell you!) to find that the "Quick" Reference manual is 86 pages long. Something is seriously wrong with your product or your tech pubs when this happens.

What do you think? Are you surprised that a tool could be so inscrutable? Is it just that the writers don't understand what Quick Reference means? And, can you guess which tool I'm referring to? (I'll post the answer later.)


John said...

The envelope, please!
And the winner for the
EDA tool with the longest "quick reference" manual
goes to ... Synopsys VCS!
That venerable simulator has been accumulating options for what, 10 years? And it shows!
I guess people get a canned set of options (usually from someone else), stick 'em in a script or Makefile, and never think about how inscrutable the tool's interface is.

John Ford said...

Well, first, I had to go look up the definition of the word 'inscrutable' ("my god Jim, I'm an engineer, not a lawyer!!") ...

And then I realized, "Oh #@$%! That's the simulator I'm supposed to be learning!", after years of figuring out how to handle NCSim.

1) I agree, people figure out what is needed to get the job done, and then stick it in a script of their choice (Make, Perl, Tcl, csh) and re-visit only to re-use. This applies to all tools, at least for me, due to early onset of short-term memory loss, and the fact that I use different tools from day to day.

2) Uhh, I forgot #2

I'm off in search of my 86 page 'quick reference'...


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