Re: Multiple Platforms documentation

Subject: Re: Multiple Platforms documentation
From: Alex Bilsland <Bilsland -at- ENTERPRISE -dot- CA>
Date: Mon, 24 Jun 1996 20:02:26 -0400

Melonie R. Holliman writes:

>We are going with a modular format. Our documentation includes
>small paperback modules (booklets of 32-90 pgs), rather than chapters,
>boxed together. This gives us the flexibility to have modules covering
>general subject matter and those platform specific without having to
>make completely different manuals. Also, some of our customers will
>want more of certain modules; we can give them that without the cost
>of unwanted documentation.

This method sounds a lot like work package format, a format developed by the
United States Navy. The USN found that this method allowed personnel to get
right to the information they needed. The initial design of work package
format was based on the observation that military personnel would rip out
and collect all the pages from a book that related to a particular piece of

It is very much task-oriented documentation. The "glue" that keeps it
together is an index at the front of the collection. This index lists major
titles and minor titles taken from within each work package (usually no
further than level 2).

This documentation also proved to be much easier to maintain. A caution
though is that it requires a solid task analysis up front. It helps if you
can play out beforehand the situations in which the modules will be used.

Alex Bilsland
Senior Technical Writer
Guild Industries

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