feature usage in my office

Subject: feature usage in my office
From: projectd (projectd@negia.net)
Date: Thu May 03 2001 - 17:02:30 CDT

To add a little data to the current debate about Abiword features, I went
looking for marketing data on word processors, what features people use
and which ones they don't. I couldn't find any such research, at least
not in a cursory web search. Instead, I surveyed my own hard drive and
found the following 50 documents. Some are things I created; most are
documents sent to me by other people. All are in MSWord .doc format.

A few caveats: I work in a manufacturing environment in a technical field,
so I probably see documents with more tables and documents with
fill-in-the-blank forms than another sort of office
environment. This data is NOT a scientific survey. I'm not a marketer,
but I know enough statistics to know that my sample size is not large
enough, given my document population, to draw inferences about the more
general word processor market. Nonetheless, this is a good snapshot of
the features actually used in my office.

The numbers may not add up to 50 documents since some documents may
include more than one from the arbitrary feature list I made up. For
instance, a document may include a header or footer, AND a bulleted
list. It may include only page numbers (which in Abiword could be
considered part of a footer). There were 11 of the 50 documents, a fairly
significant minority, which included NONE of the features I selected to
look for, mostly short memos. Anyways, here's what's sitting on my hard
drive right now at work:

Header/Footer - 20
Page numbers - 12
Table(s) - 19
Footnotes - 0
Endnotes - 0
Bulleted/Numbered List(s) - 7
Graphical Elements (usually inserted bitmaps or jpegs) - 11
Other/None of the above - 11
Total docs reviewed 50

Apparently I and the people who send me *.doc formatted documents make a
lot of use of headers and/or footers, and also tables. Understand that
these are not exclusive; some docs may have had headers/footers AND
tables, for instance.

It might be an interesting, though statistically invalid, exercise for
several more people to survey their hard drives and see what features are
really being used in real documents written by real people doing real
work. I'm assuming that in an academic environment, footnotes and
endnotes would score higher than they do in my office, for instance.


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