TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Approach for user manual From:"Mike Starr" <mike -at- writestarr -dot- com> To:<techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com> Date:Fri, 19 Jan 2007 02:36:47 -0600
The two basic approaches are task-based and reference-based documentation.
Task-based documentation tackles how to accomplish the most common tasks the
user must know how to perform, usually using step-by-step procedures. In the
course of explaining the procedures, one typically explains the screen
objects (windows, controls, etc.) encountered.
Reference-based documentation explores the entire user interface and
provides a description of every dialog box and menu item.
My own opinion is that good documentation should contain both task-based and
reference-based documentation. Whether this all comes together in a
comprehensive document is a matter of corporate style and philosophy.
However, I believe that every control on a dialog box should be explained in
some way. The programming environment provides for F1 help, tooltip text and
status bar text for every one of those objects. I figure I'm going to have
to write all of that stuff anyway, why not create a reference manual in the
process? In addition, I believe the user is entitled to a fairly
comprehensive procedure-based documentation. They need to be able to look up
"How do I adjust the muffler bearings?", etc.
So my answer to your question of which one is more suitable? Both. Will your
company allow you to do that? It's up to the pointy-haired bosses <grin>.
Mike Starr WriteStarr Information Services
Technical Writer - Online Help Developer - Website developer
Graphic Designer - Desktop Publisher - MS Office Expert
Phone: (262) 694-1028 - Tollfree: (877) 892-1028 - Fax:(262) 697-6334
Email: mike -at- writestarr -dot- com - Web: http://www.writestarr.com
----- Original Message -----
From: Samir Sachdeva (STEAG) <s -dot- sachdeva -at- steagindia -dot- in>
Subject: Approach for user manual
Can anyone explain me the difference between a screen-based approach and a
task-based approach for writing a user manual. I need to start the
documentation of a new product and my company has asked me to evaluate both
these approaches and find the more suitable one. The product is Simulator,
which simulates the complete working of a power plant and shows it on the
WebWorks ePublisher Pro for Word features support for every major Help
format plus PDF, HTML and more. Flexible, precise, and efficient content
delivery. Try it today! http://www.webworks.com/techwr-l
Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include single source authoring, team authoring,
Web-based technology, and PDF output. http://www.DocToHelp.com/TechwrlList