Re: what are the best books in our field?

Subject: Re: what are the best books in our field?
From: Richard Mateosian <srm -at- CYBERPASS -dot- NET>
Date: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 13:55:04 -0700

>BY FAR the best book that I have read in the area of technical
>communication is STRUCTURED SYSTEMS ANALYSIS AND SPECIFICATION
>by Tom DeMarco (Yourdon Press, 1979).

Yes, it's a good book, but it overlaps what we normally call
technical communication mainly in the area of task analysis.

It does not give you insight into the target audience's background
and learning styles.

It offers no help in separating the entities, relationships, and flows
that are important for the user to understand from those that are
important to the programmer but invisible to the user (assuming that
your audience is the user).

It doesn't give you much insight into which tasks users are most
likely to want help with or how they are likely to look for that
help.

It offers no help with the mechanics of presenting task-oriented,
usable information in the media of choice.

It offers only peripheral help in planning, scheduling, and tracking
the progress of the documentation sub-project.

While you could apply the techniques of the book to the documentation
task as a system, I don't believe anyone has developed a writing process
based on that kind of analysis. Perhaps this will happen as tightly
integrated online help becomes the norm rather than the exception. ...RM



Richard Mateosian <srm -at- cyberpass -dot- net>
Review Editor, IEEE Micro Berkeley, CA

(C) Copyright 1998. All rights reserved.




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