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: How do I document vaporware? From:Peter Neilson <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net> To:Sarah Stegall <sstegall -at- bivio -dot- net> Date:Tue, 27 Jan 2009 21:11:48 -0500
In general it is bad policy to document futures. The documentation can
leave the company open to charges of failing to meet promises of
delivery of product, can telegraph plans to competitors, and (as you
have mentioned) confuse the customer.
The placeholders for future development might be appropriate in the
internal specification docs, but should not be seen by outsiders.
Your management can of course overrule this policy, because it's mine,
not theirs. Their policy can be as stupid as they want, and I won't
care. You might ask the company's legal department, "It is planned that
this copy appear in the Rev. 37 version of the product. Should I worry
about your plans for defending the company if the implied promises are
not fulfilled in Rev. 38 this coming fall?"
Sarah Stegall wrote:
> Having spent half a week taking all references to a certain feature OUT
> of our software documentation, I am now informed that these references
> are "placeholders" for future development. This means that when our
> users (other software developers) browse through the command line
> interface or the help menu, they are going to find undocumented commands
> (that don't currently do anything anyway).
> There's no telling when these "features" are actually going to be
> implemented (software design plan? We don't need no stinking plan...).
> What would be the best way to mention these in user documentation? I am
> afraid our users will be very confused when they happen across
> undocumented commands. Has anyone else had to deal with this? Thanks for
> any feedback.
ComponentOne Doc-To-Help 2009 is your all-in-one authoring and publishing
solution. Author in Doc-To-Help's XML-based editor, Microsoft Word or
HTML and publish to the Web, Help systems or printed manuals. http://www.doctohelp.com
Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual
authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write
once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control! http://www.helpandmanual.com/
You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-