Re: Application Notes

Subject: Re: Application Notes
From: "Arlen P. Walker" <Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 1 Sep 1995 06:07:00 -0600

1) What is the definition of an Application Note?

Application notes are written as an aid for using a product in a very specific
application. For example, an A/D converter application note might cover
filtering the signal in a noisy environment. One written for use in an
automotive environment would contain information on protecting the circuit from
load dump (those in the auto industry know what that means, for the rest it's an
alternator overvoltage condition permitted by the voltage regulator while the
engine is running).

2) What usually goes into one?

See above.

3) Do they usually contain strictly hardware information or do they
sometimes include software information?

I would think it would depend upon the product. The ones I'm most familiar with
were hardware, but I can see where various pieces software wouold also have an
need for them.

4) Are there any guidelines that should be or need to be followed when
writing an Application Note?

That your audience is extremely familiar with the application you are
describing. Since Application Notes are usually not sent out unless requested by
the customer, the people who read them see the application every day. This
doesn't mean you never have to define terms, but it does mean that you need to
recognize that most of your audience probably knows much more about the subject
than you do, so be careful of talking down to them.

What makes them different from Reference Manual Information?

The biggest difference is in the expected level of knowledge in the audience.
Another difference is that the Application Note is expected to be narrow, rather
than broad like the Reference Manual should be. It will contain details that are
not directly related to the product (such as the filtering schemes mentioned in
the A/D example earlier) but *are* related to the application of the product.
You should use the information from the manual as a starting point. Assume that
the reader has already read and understood that information before turning to
the note (as always, a brief recap is in order, but don't just cut and paste
from the manual and think the job's done)

The best Application Notes will tell me precisely how best to use the product in
a given application, and perhaps even teach me something about the application
along the way. They won't waste my time giving me information which is not
directly related to the specific task which is the subject, no matter how useful
the information may be for other tasks. Like a short story (thinking of manuals
as novels) every word in the note will have a direct reason for being there, and
the length of the note will be as short as possible to convey the specific
information requested.

An Application Note should be considered a direct answer to the specific
question "How do I use this product to blurfl?"

Have fun,

arlen -dot- p -dot- walker -at- jci -dot- com
In God we trust, all others must supply data

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