Re: Software version numbers

Subject: Re: Software version numbers
From: Charles Fisher <decrsc!charles -at- UUNET -dot- UU -dot- NET>
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 1993 09:55:48 -0500

Ken Stitzel said:

> But enough whining. How have some of y'all dealt with this issue? Do you
> send out updated title pages with software version changes? Do you trust
> your users to track these changes with Release Notes? Do you not have this
> problem at all and prefer to discuss sports or holiday plans?

Not too long ago here at Datatel, we put the version number of the software
on the footer of every page. This seemed to work fine until a release where
the Development team targeted one application area of the product and made
only minor enhancements to other applications to work with the new features.
The result was that we had to update the documentation for the enhanced
application, but the others required little or no updates.

Our concern at that point was that users would feel that they had old or
outdated documentation when they saw the old release number, even though
the documentation was still current. We also wanted the flexibility to provide
documentation at any point in time, not necessarily with a release.

The result in that we moved to a system where we put the document's production
date on the footer of every page. We use Frame, so we set up a document
called "names" that includes the text for the book's title and pub. date,
which we cross-reference to all chapters of the book. That way, it's easy
to change because you only have to do it in one place.

We still put the release number on the title page, but that's the only place
it appears. On the back of the title page we placed a "publication history"
table that relates the date(s) in the footers to release numbers of the
software. This table tells users that even though there may be two or three
different dates on different pages of the manual, they all apply to the
current release of the software. To keep the table current, we always send
out a new title page with each doc update or release. When a release goes
out we send a new title page for each book, even if it doesn't have any
change pages.

I'll admit it's a bit kludgy and still requires that users update their
manuals, but after discussing the issue with a represntative group of users
and showing them some alternatives for dealing with the issue, this is the
method they chose.

My question now is this: does anyone know the words to the second verse of
"It Depends on Your Users" ? :)
Charles Fisher
Senior Documentation Specialist
Program Manager/President-Elect, STC Washington DC Chapter

Datatel, Inc.
4375 Fair Lakes Court
Fairfax, VA 22033
(703) 968-4588 (voice)
(703) 968-4625 (FAX)
charles -at- datatel -dot- com

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