A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

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Extreme documentation is an agile methodology for developing documentation in small to medium-sized teams in the face of vague or rapidly changing requirements.

 

1.
#36726

Abby and the Broken Fence

There is a decision doc managers need to make all the time: balance savings today against expenses tomorrow; balance constantly patching a doc with tearing the whole thing down and starting anew. My solution to fixing my fence was the exact same I would have taken to patching a doc.

Raymond, Robert. Indus (2010). Articles>Documentation>Project Management

2.
#28774

Accelerated Authoring @ Method M

The Method M blog for technical writers, marketing staff, product managers and others who spend hours each week creating documents. This blog is dedicated to helping you work more efficiently and create better documents.

Reichman, Katriel. Method M (2007). Resources>Documentation>Technical Writing>Blogs

3.
#35856

Access is Good

Yesterday we launched a new version of our developer community website. It doesn’t have many ‘community’ features as yet but that’s all to come. One thing it does now have is an HTML version of all of our product documentation, in an easily searchable format. This new format of the product documentation is largely to move us away from PDF only documentation. At present we still have a set of PDFs but they aren’t particularly usable.

McLean, Gordon. One Man Writes (2009). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Documentation

4.
#30382

Accommodating Active Learners in Software Documentation Decisions  (link broken)   (PDF)

Recent research focusing on a minimalist approach to computer software documentation has explored ways to design computer software tutorials and workbooks for users with an active learning style. The principles of minimalism and active learning styles, however, are less frequently applied to traditional reference manuals. This paper reviews several elements of minimalism and suggests ways to apply strategies for active learners to traditional reference manuals.

Smart, Karl L. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>Documentation>Instructional Design>Software

5.
#19901

Achieving Success with Intranet-Based Online Documentation  (link broken)   (PDF)

To key to achieving a successful online documentation implementation on the intranet is to understand that the resulting system is indeed a 'system.' The need for well-written, formatted and structured documents is necessary but the interactive framework in which those documents exist is equally important. It is crucial to understand the role of each individual involved in the system from Reader to Author and I.T. provider.

Frost, Edward D.J. STC Proceedings (2001). Design>Documentation>Intranets>Web Design

6.
#10178

ACM SIGDOC (Special Interest Group on Design of Communication)   (peer-reviewed)

The ACM Special Interest Group on documentation provides a forum on documentation and user support for computer products and systems. The SIG studies processes, methods, and technologies for communicating information via printed and online text, hypermedia, and multimedia. Members include technical communication professionals, educators, and researchers, as well as system designers, developers, usability specialists, and managers responsible for producing or supervising the creation of documentation, online help systems, and end user interfaces. SIGDOC offers conferences, a high-quality Web site, and The Journal of Computer Documentation, a respected quarterly publication.

ACM SIGDOC. Organizations>Documentation>Multimedia

7.
#20272

Adapting Traditional Editing Practices for Online Documentation  (link broken)   (PDF)

Technical editors are possibly best known for their abilities to transform information with format, content, grammatical, and mechanical problems into coherent, concise, understandable, and usable documents. Editors must not only provide such services for the information authors, but they must also understand and support users' needs and expectations. This presentation gives editors an approach to editing online documentation that is rooted in traditional editing practices.

Fink, Bonnie L., Carol Gasser, Jennifer Giordano and Beth A. Williams. STC Proceedings (1998). Articles>Editing>Documentation>Online

8.
#26222

Adapting Traditional Editing Practices for Online Documentation  (link broken)

Developing a process and using guidelines for editing online documents, both rooted in traditional editing practices.

Fink, Bonnie L., Carol E. Gasser, Jennifer L. Giordano and Beth A. Williams. STC Orange County (1998). Presentations>Documentation>Editing

9.
#24121

Add One Egg, a Cup of Milk, and Stir: Single Source Documentation for Today

What happens when the software firm you work for decides it will not deliver large printed manuals any more? Then the request comes to put everything online. Six months later, user profiles shift to the World Wide Web and you're asked to deliver HTML. In the future, a database of SGML information chunks may let us deliver anything, any which way. Today, we must devise a system that allows us to 'author once, publish many'. Such as system is crucial for software and hardware documentation. The method I chose was to go from FrameMaker to Acrobat .pdf files to HTML. I wrote in Adobe FrameMaker, then converted to .pdf files with Adobe Acrobat, and converted FrameMaker to HTML files with Quadralay WebWorks Publisher. But while we're waiting for the future, just learning SGML and diving deep into DTDs alone could be a mistake. SGML is a language which sets out structure, and most of us are concerned with content. Enter Information Mapping, or information types of your own devising. Identifying chunks of information such as a procedure for changing the default printer is extremely important. If we then mark each chunk for an index and record its type and title, we've also got the keywords for a future database.

Stieren, Carl. Simware (1997). Articles>Documentation>Single Sourcing>Adobe FrameMaker

10.
#20548

Adding Life to Your Documentation  (link broken)   (PDF)

Suggests several techniques technical writers can use to enliven their writing and improve their documentation.

Potsus, Whitney Beth. Intercom (2003). Articles>Documentation>Writing>Technical Writing

11.
#35571

Adding Screenshots in Help Topics

Here are a few tips for adding screenshots to your help topics.

HelpScribe (2009). Articles>Documentation>Help>Screen Captures

12.
#13775

Adding User Annotations to Help Topics

This article discusses a feature called User Annotations, whereby users can add their own custom notes to Help topics, and presents a method for implementing it in web pages or in HTML Help topics.

Gash, Dave. WritersUA (2002). Design>Documentation

13.
#29368

Adjust Your Documentation Plan for .NET   (members only)

Developing in the .NET environment requires internal documentation changes. Learn how to adjust your documentation plan so that it encompasses additional elements, such as the needs of mobile users.

Kelly, William T. TechRepublic (2003). Articles>Documentation>Server Side Includes

14.
#38632

Adjusting to Scrum   (peer-reviewed)

Scrum, the new development methodology in the Agile development family, is fast gaining acceptance in software development. But how can writers, who have little or no experience in any of the incremental development models, adjust to this methodology? And, how does the Documentation Development Life Cycle (DDLC) change in Scrum?

Bidkar, Prasanna. tekom (2011). Articles>Project Management>Agile>Documentation

15.
#20273

Adobe Acrobat: Publishing Online Documentation   (PDF)

Documentation departments are often faced with the challenge of quickly distributing high-quality versions of printed documentation via the company Intranet, the World Wide Web, or CD-ROM. Adobe Acrobat is a simple, cost-effective way to publish documentation for a variety of media and requires little time or technical expertise to produce professional-looking results. Technical writers and web developers can easily use Adobe Acrobat to create portable document format (PDF) files from printed documentation. They can then add links and bookmarks, create an index, produce simple interactive forms, and add multimedia components to their documents.

Ogata, Kerry L. and Thomas A. Witherspoon. STC Proceedings (1998). Articles>Documentation>Online>Adobe Acrobat

16.
#35268

Adobe Captivate 4: Backup, Backup, Backup

As simple as the concept of backing up your work might be, I am constantly surprised when I hear from even veteran Captivate developers that a project has become corrupt (the project, which was fine yesterday, won't open today). The fix? If the project won't open, there's a good chance that the only thing anyone can do is copy a backup project to the local disk and then open the backup. Oh, you don't have a backup? Ouch!

Siegel, Kevin A. Blogs.com (2009). Articles>Documentation>Multimedia>Adobe Captivate

17.
#37273

Adobe Community Help and AIR Help: A Disconnect?

I’ve used Adobe Community Help when trying to get answers regarding Creative Suite products. I like the emphasis on searching and the integration of results that aren’t within Adobe’s domain. I think Adobe Community Help is a great example of what help can be: pulling answers and information together from various sources and formats and then showing context in search results.

Minson, Benjamin. Gryphon Mountain (2010). Articles>Documentation>Online>Help

18.
#30404

Adobe Creative Suite 3 Video Workshop

You can use the Adobe Creative Suite 3 Video Workshop to start learning about any application you're interested in, whether you own it or not. The Video Workshop shares expertise from across Adobe and the Adobe community--you'll learn tasks, tips, and tricks from leading designers, developers, and Adobe experts. There are introductory videos for new users, and more experienced users can find videos on new features and key techniques.

Adobe (2007). Resources>Documentation>Multimedia>Video

19.
#35495

Adobe RoboHelp 8: Start Page, Project Title and Default Topic... Let's Get Them Straight Once and For All!  (link broken)

As I've continued to teach my online RoboHelp class to students who attend from all over the world, one recurring issue has been confusion over the following three RoboHelp features: the start page, the project title and the default topic. The three files/names are totally different, having nothing to do with each other, but are commonly confused. By the time you are finished reading this text, I'm hoping that the confusion is a thing of the past.

Siegel, Kevin A. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2009). Articles>Documentation>Help>Adobe RoboHelp

20.
#38496

Adobe RoboHelp: Synonyms Made Easy

Here is an example of how Search could fail. Your company Help System, a Policies guide, includes a topic concerned with contraband substances in the office. The word contraband is contained within the topic so the word will be found if users search for that specific term. However, a user who is curious about contraband substances might elect to search the Help System using another word, such as illicit. Because the word illicit isn't in the Help System, the Search will fail. There are a couple of ways to fix the problem. One way would be to add Search terms to the properties of individual topics. Another way, which I'll cover here, is to use RoboHelp's Advanced Settings for Localization to create a synonym (illicit) for contraband.

Siegel, Kevin A. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2012). Articles>Documentation>Software>Adobe RoboHelp

21.
#27076

Adobe Systems Speaks Out on DITA: Internal Use of FrameMaker, CMS, and DITA  (link broken)

Asks Puny Sen, Project Lead, Instructional Communications at Adobe Systems to talk about the software giant's foray into the world of the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA). Sen shares details about Adobe's recent DITA documentation project, the pro's and con's of using DITA with FrameMaker, as well as lessons learned of importance to anyone interested in adopting the DITA standard.

Ethier, Kay and Scott Abel. Bright Path Solutions (2005). Articles>Documentation>XML>DITA

22.
#35082

Adopting Documentation Usability Techniques to Alleviate Cognitive Friction

Usability is the combination of effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction with which the users accomplish defined goals in a given environment. User-centered documentation matches the users' mental model, thereby helping the users find information they want quickly and easily in their hour of need. The list of documentation usability criteria is fairly subjective at this time, and various opinionated discussion groups have contributed to this. Usable documentation is based on a deep understanding of the users' tasks, and this understanding can only be gained through interviewing representative users. Applying information architecture techniques, the content within documentation should be properly chunked so that the users can assimilate the information properly. Procedural guides should have a well-defined and searchable index that enables users to connect key application terms to their correct context. User-friendly documentation is always succinct, but never at the expense of omitting critical/useful information. It should be developed using a structured process so that it starts with the big picture and gradually adds lower level of details, addressing the needs of every unique group of users. Finally, the documentation must be tested among a representative group of users, and their feedback should be incorporated to make sure that it has met all of the major usability criteria.

Biswas, Debarshi Gupta and Suranjana Dasgupta. STC Usability SIG (2009). Articles>Usability>User Experience>Documentation

23.
#35936

Adopting Documentation Usability Techniques to Alleviate Cognitive Friction

Cognitive friction results in a digital divide between the software development community and software users. The digital divide, in turn, has a direct correlation with the usability of the application: how well can the software users learn and use the application or the product to perform their tasks and accomplish their goals. Today's Technical Communicators can help bridge this divide and reduce cognitive friction by applying industry-acclaimed usability techniques to the documentation they produce toward accelerating user acceptance of the product. Less cognitive friction means better user adoption that results in fewer calls to tech support, higher customer satisfaction, and in the long run, better brand loyalty.

Biswas, Debarshi Gupta and Suranjana Dasgupta. Indus (2009). Articles>Documentation>Usability>Methods

24.
#23406

Advantage of a Rainy Summer  (link broken)

This article deals, despite the title above, with aspects on handling and checking of technical documentation. I consider these aspects as part of the functionality of documentation besides more conventional functionality such as factual correctness, layout, combination of figures and text.

Rullgård, Åke. TC-FORUM (2000). Articles>Documentation>User Centered Design

25.
#34032

Advantages of Using Microsoft SourceSafe While Writing Your Technical Documents

Microsoft’s Visual SourceSafe was not created with technical communicators in mind. It was created for engineers writing software source code. But it is successfully used by technical writers in offices around the world to control documentation.

Technical Communication Center (2009). Articles>Content Management>Documentation>Technical Writing

 
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