Re: Help! Documenting customizable software

Subject: Re: Help! Documenting customizable software
From: Richard Mateosian <srm -at- C2 -dot- ORG>
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 09:45:02 -0800

>I have just inherited the documentation for a totally configurable software
>application (large and expensive, intended for hospitals). This program
>is, like, the most un-shrinkwrapped software I've ever seen.

You have to go to the developers for help. They couldn't have created the
program without an underlying model that maintains internal consistency
while allowing users to make so many independent choices.

You need to understand the underlying model thoroughly. That's what you're
really documenting.

Then you need to understand the needs of typical hospitals for this sort of
application. This will help you identify which features and choices are
important to your potential readers.

Once you understand the model and the application, you'll be able to explain
the user interface, and you'll be able to tell users how to think about and
plan their final configurations.

This kind of project calls for a task-oriented user guide, focusing on the
most common problems users need to solve, and a comprehensive reference
guide. The latter should probably be integrated into the user interface, not
simply spewed out onto paper. ...RM

Richard Mateosian President, Berkeley STC
Freelance Technical Writer srm -at- c2 -dot- org Review Editor, IEEE Micro

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