|Paper or Web?|
|Written by Si Dunn and Connie DunnHits : 400|
|Sunday, 31 October 1999 19:00|
The typical American now works 47 hours per week--and brusquely answers, "I'm busy!" to any questions about how they are doing or what's new in their life.
Time no longer is simply "of the essence." Today, it is "mission-critical." And its speed limits keep getting faster by the minute, especially in the computer world. That sleek, supersonic 600 MHz PC you bought last week soon--too soon--will be just another obsolete digital biplane.
As we continue to get more speed-crazy and time-compressed, there is a growing market for books that tell us--quickly--how to jump into popular software packages and put them to work.
What's driving that growth, of course, is business's need--real and perceived--for quicker completions and quicker deliveries. Learning curves no longer have time to curve. Start a new job today and you'll hear, "There's your desk and computer. Have your project plan and status report on my desk in two hours."
In recent years, two of the most time-consuming tasks in personal computing have been desktop publishing and the creation and electronic publishing of Web pages.
Early versions of Ventura and PageMaker, for example, often took months to master, even with how-to books and easy access to gurus. And, until recently, building and posting decent-looking Web pages was not a task for the impatient nor the easily stressed.
Online Press, based in Redmond, Wash., specializes in "fast-track training for busy people" and offers a wide range of Quick Course books on how to use leading software packages.
Two of Online's newest offerings for the publishing crowd are "Quick Course in Microsoft Publisher 2000" and "Quick Course in Creating a Web Site using Microsoft FrontPage 2000." Both $14.99 paperback books were written by Joyce Cox and Christina Dudley.
These books are intended for beginners and intermediate users. They pack useful screens and step-by-step explanations into fewer than 200 pages. Both works stick to a simple, two-part approach: "Learning the Basics" and "Building Proficiency." In each book, the table of contents is well organized and backed up by a reasonably thorough index.
"With Publisher," write the authors, "you can focus on the message of a publication and let the program handle many of the aesthetic details."
"With FrontPage," they promise, "you can produce and manage a Web site in just a few easy steps." Also, "You don't need to know the cumbersome HyperText Markup Language (HTML) coding that makes Web pages display and work properly on the screen." FrontPage supposedly takes care of that.
In a perfect world, all of this might be true. But once you do get Publisher and FrontPage running, you can still count on hitting situations where you will have to wrestle with layout aesthetics or debug glitches in HTML. To be truly proficient at desktop publishing and Web page publishing, you will need deeper guides after you advance beyond beginner stage with these two books.
Online's Publisher 2000 book starts at the bottom. It shows you, with screen examples and numbered steps, how to use a wizard to create a promotional postcard for a business. Later, you create and modify a flier. Finally, you learn how to produce a newsletter and a press-release template.
In the FrontPage guide, you are shown, also with screen examples and numbered steps, how to set up a basic Web site for an example company. From there, the book covers how to add graphics, hyperlinks, navigation bars and other features. In the second part, the examples cover more complex matters, such as frames, tables and forms.
The Quick Course books are excellent starting tools, and they are "keepers" for later reference, as well. If you run a business that uses Publisher and FrontPage and there is no time for basic training, consider issuing these two guides to new employees.
There is a new online delivery option, if you feel too time-crunched to shop for them. Some of the Quick Course books (including the ones for FrontPage 2000 and Publisher 2000) now can be delivered via CD-ROM, the Internet or an intranet for self-paced training.