Re: Minimalist Document Design

Subject: Re: Minimalist Document Design
From: Chuck Banks <chuck -at- ASL -dot- DL -dot- NEC -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 4 Nov 1993 09:47:26 CST

To Janie Bergen, et al:

In the project I'm working on, we are delivering the
documentation at negotiated levels of completeness during the
software development process. So far, we have delivered a
general description and detailed descriptions specific to
each portion of the product.

Although there are design documents available, testing
personnel from both our company and the customer press continuously
for more procedural information. We have given them sketchy, draft
quality procedures in some critical instances. These have been
applauded to a degree. However, we continue to be pressed to speed
delivery of detailed, thorough procedures for using the software.

This is not clinical, tabulated evidence for user requirements,
but it tells us that the extreme application of minimalist designs
is dependent upon the audience. Minimalist documents serve well for
video games, but our customers want to shorten the experimental
method learning curve for software. They want their personnel to be
able to become proficient with the software in record time. That
requires a relatively detailed document.

Thus, I see minimalist design as another tool in meeting
customer requirements for information about a product. I just
don't see minimalist documentation as a universal method. Nuclear
power plant operation comes to mind. Could it be the Chernobyl
crew used minimalist documents? 8-)

Best Regards!

Chuck Banks
__ ________ ______
|\\ | || // Chuck Banks
| \\ | ||_______ || Senior Technical Writer
| \\ | || || NEC America, Inc.
| \\| \\______ \\______ E-Mail: chuck -at- asl -dot- dl -dot- nec -dot- com
America, Incorporated CompuServe: 72520,411

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