What to call an umbrella document?

Subject: What to call an umbrella document?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 31 May 2001 09:50:50 -0400

Becca Price reports: <<We have a very elaborate product, which consists of a
number of components that can be installed in any number of configurations.
Because of this, we have a separate installation guide for each component.
Unfortunately, there really isn't any one place to put information that
relates to the product as a whole, or talk about interactions between
different components, installation order, and so forth. There actually exist
documents that (mostly) contain this high-level information - three of them,
with a whole lot of overlap. They are called "Getting Started Guides" -
which in itself causes confusion, because experienced installers don't look
at them, because the name implies something different (IMHO) from what they

Sounds like you need a single document called "Product overview" or
"Planning your installation" to act as a sort of "guide to the guides". You
could also call it "before you begin", but the risk here is that nobody will
read it (just like nobody reads "read me first" files). Well, almost nobody.

<<I'd kinda like to get away from "getting started" because it also contains
upgrade information, but there is historical inertia behind keeping the
"Getting Started" title.>>

Inertia isn't a good reason to retain a title if (as you note) it doesn't
describe the actual contents. The solution might be to sell your manager on
a consistent approach, centered around the "product overview" (or whatever
you call it). After all, if you're going to redesign one thing, you might as
well make everything else fit!

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
"User's advocate" online monthly at

"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that
English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words;
on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them
unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."-- James D. Nicoll


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