Inventive Documentation [was Re: Let's hear it for Connie...(or, go and do likewise...)]

Subject: Inventive Documentation [was Re: Let's hear it for Connie...(or, go and do likewise...)]
From: Megan Golding <mgolding -at- secureworks -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: 27 Jun 2002 08:55:36 -0400

Sometime Tuesday, Chuck Vermette posted a great comment from Connie
> <<<Over 2 1/2 years I have patiently and repeatedly explained that there
> are new and better ways to support the product than just a manual. Then
> I deliver those new and better ways on time and on budget.

Connie's "new and better ways" got me to thinking -- what are some
inventive ways you've used/seen to document something?

In my time, I've seen and used any or all of the following:

1. A Wiki site (see for the particular type I use). Its
a web site that anyone can edit. This distributes documentation
responsibility to an entire team. In my case, I've gotten developers to
write a lot of the internal docs simply by providing them this
easy-to-use place to write. Wiki, IMHO, is best for informal, internal

2. The Linux Documentation Project (see Their
HOWTO's, written mainly by amateur writers (read: developers and users
of the software), get to the point quickly and are highly focused. I
appreciate a quick, "How do I do this?" document.

3. Training. No joke. Let's face it, people don't like to read manuals
(at least not in the US). A Washington Post article, publicized on this
list recently, and at, talks about not reading the manual. I think that training is an excellent substitute. Unfortunately, its not very efficient at reaching as many people with as few resources as written docs. Web-based training makes strides in that direction.

4. The one-page Quick Start Guide. I love this thing! I first saw them
with new computers where the guide is poster-sized, very colorful, and
virtually all visual. I've applied the concept to several products with
varying degrees of success. Very innovative solution to the "Won't read
the manual" problem I mentioned in #3, above.

Anyone else?



Megan Golding (mgolding -at- secureworks -dot- net)
SecureWorks, Inc.

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Let's hear it for Connie...(or, go and do likewise...): From: Charles E Vermette

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