Re: front matter in manuals

Subject: Re: front matter in manuals
From: Bill Swallow <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2005 09:35:08 -0500

> > 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.

Right... that should be the exception, not the target profile for a
SDK. People do strange things, but we shouldn't try to capture it all
in an audience profile. You want to capture an INTENDED audience, and
one for an SDK usually has some degree of programming knowledge or
will require that knowledge to use your SDK. It's not your SDK's
documentation's job to teach them programming from the ground up. It's
to teach them how to use your SDK within the framework in which it's
designed to work.

For example, I am documenting a C# SDK right now. The documentation
does not instruct the reader how to program in C#... that is a
requirement they need to meet in order to use the product. We do not
instruct the reader how the .NET Framework works... that is another
requirement they need to meet in order to use the product. There are
plenty of other examples.

You need to make general assumptions about your audience, because no
two users will be exactly alike. Those assumptions need to be backed
with required prerequisite knowledge on the part of the audience.
These requirements need to be documented up front in the product
documentation. If they don't meet those requirements, then they need
training to get up to speed.

Bill Swallow
HATT List Owner
WWP-Users List Owner


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Fwd: front matter in manuals: From: Sandy Harris

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