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st: Manuals

From   Allan Reese <>
To   Stata distribution list <>
Subject   st: Manuals
Date   Wed, 17 Dec 2003 11:36:30 +0000 (GMT)

There was discussion some months back about making the manuals available
as files.  I liked the manuals when I first met Stata (v3) but have
concluded at v8 that the hyperlink structure has perhaps gone too far for
a paper-bound (in literal and metaphorical senses) format.
Cross-referencing is fine, but my recollection is that human readers can
hold in short-term memory at most three layers of recursion.  The Graphics
manual is particularly tedious in making one look for an object, then
object_options, object_style etc.  And the ordering is unnatural.  Do you
look under the letter, graph_letter or what?  See under "a" for added_text
(not t!), or "m" for labelling points then "t" for textbox_options.

It would be far cheaper now to provide all the manuals on one CD, but that
still leaves open the problem of finding the relevant sections.  Some
years ago I wrote that we still lack the type of display envisaged in the
early 80s in the UK government sponsored Alvey project.  At some time we
*will* have available a truly useful desktop: ie, a display about the size
of a desktop or drawing board on which several pages can be displayed full
size and not overlapping.  There should be *some* convergence of
technology being adapted to the way humans work rather than humans being
expected to the constraints of the technology.

Rather than end with a moan, I'll grit my teeth and, via this pokey
white-on-black window on a 17in VDU, send Season's Greetings to all.

R. Allan Reese                       Email:

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