Extreme documentation is an agile methodology for developing documentation in small to medium-sized teams in the face of vague or rapidly changing requirements.
Contains news and information on software and documentation issues, reports on survey into the current trends in technical communication, the future of Help / trends in user assistance, which Help authoring tool to buy, an introduction to single-sourcing, career advice, etc.
During March and April 2003, Cherryleaf carried out an online survey into the current trends in technical communication. One of the questions we asked was: Do the online user assistance documents produced by your organization contain the following advanced capabilities?
Providing timely information to diverse users on different platforms can challenge any document delivery system; however, the World Wide Web provides an effective solution for some applications. While the Web presents some extra problems and challenges that other media do not, the results justify the resources required. This paper describes and evaluates an implementation of Computing and Information Services documentation on the World Wide Web.
Help authoring tools (HATs) are specialized editors and converters to create online technical documentation. Today, many help authoring tools also provide features for single source publishing, which means that you can generate several output formats and versions from one shared text source. While most tools manage to produce different online formats like browser-based help and compiled help very well, only few tools can also produce printed user manuals (or PDF) of professional quality. Big differences also exist between the tools when it comes to translating your projects into foreign languages.
What issues and legalities do we as Technical Communicators or Wiki Administrators need to be aware of as we move towards collaborative authoring projects and so forth, especially when documenting open source software?
Checklist of key criteria for selecting a tool to take screen captures (screenshots / screen dumps). Screen captures are used within all forms of software documentation, such as user manuals, online help files, interactive demos and tutorials, but also for web sites and brochures.
Checklist of key criteria for selecting a tool to create interactive software demos (so-called screencasts). Software demos are not only used on web sites but increasingly also as standalone tutorials or embedded within online help files and other sorts of software documentation.
This paper describes some common types of help topic and when to use each. Different applications require different mixes of help topics. Choose the topic types that are appropriate for the application you are documenting.
Apple's first user manual was largely the creation of Ronald Wayne, Apple's third founder, recruited from Atari by Steve Jobs for a 10 percent stake in the new company. Wayne not only wrote the entire 10-page booklet, he also drew the intricate cover logo depicting Isaac Newton beneath an apple tree.
The way in which we compute has been changing over the last three or four years. In fact, I think I can safely say that what many people are doing now isn’t computing in the traditional sense of the word. And this move is going to have an effect on technical communication.
I like the concept of not treating the readers of documentation like idiots. This little card gave me the information that I needed and couldn’t know ahead of time (how much water to use, the filter looks too big but is the right size, only push the button once) without wasting my time by giving me information that I either already knew or could easily guess (I can get water from the sink, I need to use a cup). Can we use this concept in software documentation? What parts can safely be left out so that we are only highlighting the pieces that are really needed?
Collaborative walkthroughs are a technique that my team used while rewriting our Help and adopting DITA. We believe that we were able to improve the user experience by improving the collaborative experience.
Describes two case studies where Tec-Ed leveraged usability research and documentation activities to create solutions that met the needs of both our clients and their customers.
Online materials, as Johnson-Eilola points out, too often provide speed but neither learning nor conceptual information. Minimum information is often provided in help systems because there are no resources to provide more. But the result is often a system that, without any conceptual information, provides little more than help that is so obvious that it ceases to be helpful. Even when resources are constrained, help systems should, at a minimum, refer to external sources that can help users with important concepts behind the tasks they are trying to perform.
A screencast is a video of a computer screen combined with narration that complements the video. This paper seeks to understand the common elements shared by all effective screencasts. First, I explore what a screencast is, why screencasting is important, and some applications of screencasting. Then current multimedia literature is studied and applied to screencasting. A list of the common elements of effective screencasts is proposed, using current screencasting knowledge, cognitive psychology, and multimedia documentation as a basis. The applications and genres of screencasting, as well as novel approaches, techniques, and shortcomings are discussed as well.
When purchasing complex software products, users frequently receive large quantities of information; however, to use the product efficiently, they need a visually obvious starting point that helps them locate the specific information they need. With maintained With the quantity and diversity of information, customers need to be able to find the information they need without flipping through endless pages. In order to give the users a starting point in all of the printed and ASCII file information. we created a document entitled the Guide to products, users can use the features available with a new release most efficiently if they have an overview of the major changes to the product and to the information about the product. By using visual devices and creating an overview document. for each release, technical communicators can decrease their costs and increase users' productivity.
This chapter explores the idea that a small group of people who have a sense of belonging in an online community may provide content much like a technical writer does. Regardless of their background, education, or training, more people are becoming providers of technical information on the web.
COMPAQ QuickFind is a CD-ROM database of COMPAQ product information. Available by subscription, QuickFind offers full-text search-and-retrieval functions and full-color graphics in a 350-megabyte database. QuickFind incorporates hard-copy information into an electronic format. The QuickFind editorial process (converting hard- copy information to searchable files) is the key to creating a valuable, centralized support tool for COMPAQ dealers, customers, and internal personnel.
A comparative evaluation of two user guides,--the document traditionally used by a company and a model document designed on the basis of research results and recommendations,--was carried out using a number of complementary approaches focusing on the user. The quality and suitability of these documents for the target audience were assessed in terms of content, structure, presence of certain organizational devices (such as headings) and pictures included. The results revealed that the model document was more attractive, more efficient, and better adapted to users' needs, thanks to its modular organization (being structured according to "functions"), a large number of pictures, the presence of headings, and rationalization of the vocabulary used.
Recently, there was a lively discussion on the Help Authoring Tools and Techniques (HATT) mailing list about the relative compactness and efficiency of the HTML code produced by various Help authoring tools. As a result of these discussions, several industry consultants decided to collaborate on a project to compare the HTML, CSS, and CHM files produced by a variety of Help authoring tools.
What Are These Tools? Screen recorders that let you: record a series of screens as frames in a movie – like chaining together screen shots; annotate the frames with text captions, high-lights, and other effects for enhanced learning and explanation; add testing – informally through “dead-end” quizzes or formally using eLearning; publish the result.