Re: Procedural Steps

Subject: Re: Procedural Steps
From: Iain Harrison <iharrison -at- SCT -dot- CO -dot- UK>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 1996 14:36:33 GMT

I use the rule of thumb that the steps in a procedure should
be numbered if there is a particular order to them.

If the order is variable, or the steps are optional, I
generally use the same layout, but with bullets instead of

The problem is that much of what we document is very complex,
with many branches, options and decision points.

Generally, a structured way of procedures and cross-references
to other procedures serves the purpose well, but sometimes
this just isn't realistic.

If there are just a couple of steps, I sometimes put a text
description of them, rather than send the user off to a

I think the 'Dog's Guides' avoid steps because they are too
much like the original document they're trying to replace.
They seem to assume that the user didn't get on with the
original documentation.

My view is that numbered procedural steps are the easiest to
follow, but not necessarily the easiest to write.

They also make it difficult to fudge over difficult parts of
the task, which seems to be the prime feature of most
beginners' guides on the market.

In an object-oriented world, it is easy for designers to
forget that things should still be objective-oriented.

iharrison -at- sct -dot- co -dot- uk

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