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Re: st: PDF Stata 8 manuals

From (William Gould, Stata)
Subject   Re: st: PDF Stata 8 manuals
Date   Thu, 17 Jul 2003 09:59:21 -0500

Bill Dupont raised what is a perpetually thorny issue, Stata on-line
documentation.  The comments that appeared on the list were helpful.
As many of you have observed,

    1.  Computer documenation on-line is convenient as long as it does 
        not lead to the abolishment of printed manauls.

    2.  Stata's manuals are sometimes more than computer documentation
        in that they provide statistical description, advice, and 

    3.  Putting manuals on-line makes piracy easier.

    4.  There is a trade-off between the price of the software and the 
        price of manuals.

We here at StataCorp have gone around and around on this issue.  Let me
summarize our current thinking, which several of you echoed:

    1.  It is reasonable for users to expect on-line documentation.  
        Sometimes one travels, and lugging manuals is difficult.  Searching
        on-line documentation is easier than flipping through manual indices.

    2.  Our concerns with piracy are so great that we have concerns about
        using PDF.  With SMCL, our concerns are not so great.

    3.  We are enamored of our current pricing/business model.  More
        truthfully, we have stumbled on a model that works both for us
        and for our users and we are nervous about changing it too much.

    4.  We are very pleased with our manuals in terms of the statistical
        description, advice, and references they provide.  We want to 
        charge for that and, anyway, it is part of our current
        pricing/business model.

That leads us to thinking about expanding the contents of the SMCL on-line
help.  The idea is to include all the content of the manuals so as long that
content is computer related, deleting the statistical description, advice,
etc.  We would also include examples, something we can very elegantly do in 

I make no promises as to what the resolution will be; this is still an item of
debate at StataCorp.

-- Bill
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