maintaining a list of changes in User Guides between versions

Subject: maintaining a list of changes in User Guides between versions
From: "Caroline Tabach" <Caroline -at- radcom -dot- com>
To: <beth -dot- agnew -at- senecac -dot- on -dot- ca>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 6 Feb 2007 11:30:11 +0200

Actually, it is vaguely to do with a discussion of some sort of request from outside the company and this must have come up as a requirement for documentation delivered. So I wondered, “Should I be doing this? Will someone ask me to do this soon? Is everyone doing it except me? If so, what will I answer when they ask me to document changes in the UGs?”
Message: 51
Date: Mon, 05 Feb 2007 14:12:08 -0500
From: Beth Agnew < >
Subject: Re: maintaining a list of changes in User Guides between
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Message-ID: <45C78188 -dot- 2040001 -at- senecac -dot- on -dot- ca>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed

Why do they need to keep track of these changes? It's additional
overhead to you in terms of your time and resources, do you really want
to be doing that? It sounds like because they track changes in the
product they think you should do it too. I have been asked to keep such
a log before. I smile and say, "We don't do that." Are you going to
track changes every time you do a spell check, fix some typos -- 2 Feb
corrected 27 typos, or rework a sentence. No. (Gosh, at least I hope
not!) So then you have to develop specifications of what you'll track
and what you won't bother with. Track reworking a paragraph? No. Track
moving chapters around? Track swapping in new graphics? It can be
nightmare to have to account for all that.

If they want to know if you've documented features X, Y and Z in this
new version, it's easy enough to find in the publication itself. If it's
changed in the product, they can assume it's changed in the
documentation. Of course, if something is missed that's not a problem
tracking changes will help. Somewhere you'll probably have notes about
what you were asked to do in the new version. With that, the developers
readme that lists product changes, and the previous and current versions
of the documentation, that should be sufficient. Use a version control
system if you want to have a finer grained handle on what details
changed version to version, including typos.

When people don't understand what we do as techwriters, they often ask
for things that work for other roles but not for ours. Just say no. :-)


Caroline Tabach
Technical/Marcom Writer

Fax:         +972 3 6474681
Email:   caroline -at- radcom -dot- com


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