Documenting installers?

Subject: Documenting installers?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 20 May 2004 10:34:14 -0400

Amanda Norcross wondered: <<I am working on a software installation manual, and one of the procedures includes steps that describe starting and going through the installer... My question is the following: does it make more sense in an installation procedure to: 1) "gloss over" these common windows and only address in detail windows that are unique or specific to our product or 2) address all windows, regardless of how many million times users may have seen some of them.>>

In such cases, it makes the most sense to focus on _preparing for the installation_. A well-written installation script should explain everything the user needs to know to complete the installation _once they've decided how to do the installation_. Why make them read through this when they're only going to see it again on the screen? The only good reason to document everything is if the installation script itself is so lame that it needs to be explained. And doesn't this defeat the purpose of having an installer?

So your installation instructions can be as follows:
1. Things you need to know or do before installing
2. Options to think about before you run the installer.
3. Put away the manual and run the installer.

<<I observed a user installing the product a few months ago and it appeared to throw him that the procedure addressed only some of the windows he was seeing. This user was a field engineer from within our company, and these are the people who usually install our product.>>

Sounds like a combination of a poor installer and lack of training.

--Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)


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Documenting installers: From: Norcross, Amanda

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