README Files

Subject: README Files
From: "George F. Hayhoe" <gfhayhoe -at- SCESCAPE -dot- NET>
Date: Sat, 7 Dec 1996 07:09:21 -0500

Paul Baur asked some good questions about README files.

The 1Q97 issue of _Technical Communication_ will feature an excellent
article by Mark Johnson entitled "Building a Better README" that presents
research results that will be helpful to Paul and others whose job
responsibilities include writing README files.

Mark's article includes a survey of the literature about these files as
well as results of user surveys and focus groups that identify what users
expect to find in README files.

Here's the summary:

"Surveys and focus groups show that most software buyers use README files.
Users primarily look to README files for information on software bugs. They
identify the following ways that software manufacturers can improve their
README files: 1) keep them short, 2) include a table of contents, 3) use
hypertext, and 4) eliminate the need for README files. Along with these
improvements, this article discusses other ways to create quality README
files that meet concrete user needs."

The issue is currently in press and will be mailed on 1/22/97.

STC members receive a subscription to _Technical Communication_ as part of
their membership. Nonmembers may subscribe for $60 US ($90 US overseas) by
sending a check to STC, 901 N Stuart Street Suite 904, Arlington, VA 22203.

--George Hayhoe (gfhayhoe -at- scescape -dot- net)
Editor, _Technical Communication_

George Hayhoe Associates
Voice: 803-642-2156
Fax: 803-642-9325
http://www.scescape.net/~gfhayhoe/index.htm


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