RE: Documentation included in software build

Subject: RE: Documentation included in software build
From: "Colin Ramsden" <colin -at- ramsden -dot- info>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 6 May 2004 01:21:00 +1000

Dear C.

My oath. It appears from your comment that the requested purpose for
simultaneous product/documentation release is to link documentation with a
particular release.

However, it seems that you're dragging the ball. Might I suggest that it's
time to up the ante. There is no reason why you can't deliver up to date
(same day) auto-generated documentation (in any format - doc, pdf, hlp, chm,
help, fm, xml, htm, txt, csv, xls, vml).

To do so requires the active participation of the development team, not just
the technical writer. There is no reason why the developers can't write
apropriately tagged comments into their code, which is automatically
extracted and published along with the compilation of the code at every
build. Providing timeliness and versioning.

Ultimately, your real need is to identify the expected audience, their
requirements, and needs, and then figure out how to best address those
needs. If simultaneous release provides a solution to the users' needs,
then, and only then, do it. If not, question why.

The subsequent question of matching documentation to builds can be readily
remedied by the inclusion of automatic documentation builds with the product
build, and the inclusion of the build number in the documentation.
Accountability in action.

The question of including information about temporary functionality or
behaviour is a moot point when the functionality and documentation is
changing daily. The point is that the documentation is as accurate as
possible at the time of publication (build) and is associated with only a
particular build. A certain version of the documentation is only Pertinent
to a particular version (build) of the product. Make it clear that the
documentation is only relevant to the current version, and is subject to
change, and you've covered your rear.

Colin Ramsden
Senior Technical Author.

-----Original Message-----
From: bounce-techwr-l-158987 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
[mailto:bounce-techwr-l-158987 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com] On Behalf Of carthur
Sent: Tuesday, May 04, 2004 11:55 PM
Subject: Documentation included in software build


A project manager has asked if we could include documentation in the
software builds to ensure that the docs associated with a particular release
can be found easily.

I have some concerns about this, chiefly that we are updating release notes
after the final software build, although I do not think they would mind if a
further build was included simply to incorporate the documentation. There is
usually from 5 - 10 documents in addition to the release notes that describe
new features of the software. The software is internal and documentation is
not controlled by ISO or any group within the company. We place pdfs of the
final documents in a single folder in Perforce (revision control
software)that is accessible to anyone with Perforce. We will also be linking
to those docs from the intranet in the near future.

I do not want to include documentation in the progressive builds, as items
can come in and out of the documentation if a bug is found that cannot be
solved for this release and must go into known issues.

Do any of you have experience with including docs with a software build?
Good, bad or indifferent - and why?




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