Fwd: front matter in manuals

Subject: Fwd: front matter in manuals
From: Sandy Harris <sandyinchina -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2005 22:18:02 +0800

Edwin Skau <eddy -dot- skau -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:

> > I also make the first chapter an introduction, stating the manual's
> > purpose, audience, and "prerequisities". That last category states what
> > I think the reader's background should be.
> >
> Well, that is "that sort of section".
> When you define an intended/target audience, that description is
> loaded with assumptions. ... You's expect an SDK user to
> be conversant with the programming paradigm, etc.

Not necessarily. Your C++ SDK might end up being used in
a banking application where the team consisted of an o-o guru
who is a Smalltalk programmer, an old hand who knows the
application inside out but programs in COBOL, and a couple
of Unix hackers who only know C.

That sort of thing is a worst case, but those do turn up sometimes.

> To leave out purpose (, scope,) and intended audience definitions is
> to open up your document to a whole range of unwarranted expectations
> from all kinds of incidental readers.

I think the best course is to say something like "these docs assume
familiarity with X,Y and Z. If this is not the case, here are some links
to get you up to speed ..."

An example from my writing:

Sandy Harris
Zhuhai, Guangdong, China


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