Just in Time Knowledge

Subject: Just in Time Knowledge
From: Beth Agnew <bagnew -at- INSYSTEMS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 31 Oct 1997 09:51:57 -0500

John Posada told us about his experiences learning Frame 5.5 and said:

>I found the trick is to learn what you need, to do what you need to do.
>If you don't need a TOC the first week, don't learn how to generate a

I picked this out of his narrative because I think it's important for
technical writers. Not only do _we_ approach learning new tools this way
when we're under time pressure, but we should remember that many of our
_users_ approach _our_ products this way. Sure, we make our manuals task
oriented, but do we refine that thought even further to order the tasks in
the way the user needs them, when the user needs them. This "Just in Time
Knowledge" is a new buzz phrase, and is related to the minimalist
documentation idea as well.

Obviously, in every product there will be a branching of the paths where
different users will need to know about different tasks. I'm currently
working on a suite of manuals and help for a product for which the first
1/3 of the tasks will be common to all users, and then the branching
occurs. Some users will need to know how to move their documents onto the
Web at that point, while others will continue to work internally.

Ideally, manuals would be non-linear, so that any user could follow any
path. (This is where on-line manuals are so handy!)

Anyone want to discuss or share how they handle providing Just in Time


Beth Agnew
Senior Technical Writer, InSystems Technologies Inc.
65 Allstate Parkway, Suite 100 Tel: (905) 513-1400 ext. 280
Markham, Ontario, Canada L3R 9X1 Fax: (905) 513-1419
mailto:bagnew -at- insystems -dot- com Visit us at: http://www.insystems.com


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