RE: How do I document vaporware?

Subject: RE: How do I document vaporware?
From: Paul Hanson <phanson -at- Quintrex -dot- com>
To: techwr-l List <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2009 08:07:28 -0600

I use "Reserved for future use" for things like this.

I fairly recently went through a similar situation in late August 2008. I haven't seen anyone mention this so I will offer what I did in the situation as something for you to consider. It is too late for you if you have already removed all of the text you had written, but may be something to tuck away in the back of your head for the next time this comes up, especially since you mentioned that there is no plan for your software development life cycle.

I had 4 weeks to do 12 weeks of work. My (cool) manager picked 4 projects to be included on the cut and each one was scheduled to take a week. One project that she chose made changes in no less than 8 of our systems, adding fields to multiple screens. It was a hot project and one of the ones that needed to be done by the end of the 4 weeks. So I went to work, making decent progress. Then, about Wednesday noon, I got word that the project I had already made about 50% of the changes for would *not* be on the next release. It was being pushed back to the release after.

Instead of removing all the text I had written, I merely made it so that the user couldn't see it. I write HTML pages. I went to each page I had made changes to and inserted comment tags <!-- --> to hide the text I had added. I also have to maintain the same text in Word docs so I selected the text, opened the Font window and selected the Hidden check box.

The cut was made for the version that would not have this project. Then I went in and removed all the <!-- --> tags. Also, when I inserted the <!-- --> tags, I had put the unique project number in the comment so that searching for the project number would find all of the HTML pages that were changed for the project. In my Word docs, I selected the hidden text and cleared the "hidden" check box to make it visible, regenerated the PDF and was done.

So, if you are writing HTML, you may just want to hide the text you wrote. Yes, the functionality may change between what you wrote now and then, but you are also capturing the way it was designed to work at this time. When you get the specs/info about the 'real' version, you can review what you wrote originally and, possibly, find inconsistencies between what you wrote and what is proposed. That may help you clarify the functionality and, in turn, result in better documentation of the feature.

Paul Hanson
Technical Writer
RoboHelp ACE - http://www.adobe.com/support/forums/team_macromedia/robohelp.html
Quintrex Data Systems http://www.quintrex.com
email: phanson at quintrex.com




-----Original Message-----
From: Sarah Stegall

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).
<snip>
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References:
How do I document vaporware?: From: Sarah Stegall

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