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On Wed, 2001-10-17 at 09:38, Hart, Geoff wrote:
> The best starting point is with the people who will use the repository,
> since whatever you design must meet their needs first and foremost.
Yes! Gathering user requirements is the best first step you can take. In
my case, I had similar doc repository needs. I interviewed random
customers in my company (this was to be a company-wide knowledgebase)
and incorporated their feedback into my design.
> Don't forget that any kind of online repository inevitably grows, and
> means you'll have to allow for growth. Talk to the people who will be
> generating content for this repository (both users and managers) to find
> what they think might conceivably become part of the repository in
> future--even if it's a seemingly silly idea and has a low probability of
> ever occurring.
I would suggest a repository that can handle documents of any format. I
initially designed for text files only (HTML being the primary format)
but wound up needing to incorporate PDF files. My design was constrained
by my early decision to support text files.
At its most basic level, a doc repository can consist of the following:
1. A web server. I've piggybacked on our corporate intranet.
2. A structure into which to present the docs to the user.
3. A search tool. I'm using HTDig, an open source HTML search engine.
4. A good index, as Geoff suggested.
5. A means of publishing. I allow other people to publish to our
repository so that I'm not a bottleneck in the publishing process.
6. Depending on your needs, you'll probably want revision history and
version control. Both are rolled into one with CVS in my config. If
you're on a Windows platform, investigate VSS from Microsoft.
In her book, _Developing Quality Techincal Information_, Gretchen Hargis
proposes nine characteristics for quality technical information. Of
these, I would propose that Organization and Retrievability apply
equally well to a documentation repository. A search engine and index
will assist in Retrievability. Meanwhile, the presentation structure
will assist in Organization.
Megan Golding (mgolding -at- secureworks -dot- net)
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