Fw: Documenting a Programming Language

Subject: Fw: Documenting a Programming Language
From: "Leslie Johnson" <custcomm -at- cadvision -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 29 Dec 1999 19:32:36 -0700

Forwarding this for Suzanne.
-----Original Message-----
From: Suzanne Pyle <comline -at- greennet -dot- net>
To: Leslie Johnson <custcomm -at- cadvision -dot- com>
Cc: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wednesday, December 29, 1999 7:27 AM
Subject: Re: Documenting a Programming Language

>Can anyone provide some sample references or structure for documenting a
>Web-based app using VB? This document would act like sophisticated specs,
>including high level design architect model, followed by class
>Leslie Johnson wrote:
>> Hi Megan,
>> I agree with what Len mentioned - I also think that splitting the doc
into a
>> couple of docs is the neatest (tidiest) solution - it allows you to write
>> for really specific audiences.
>> If, however, that's not an option, I'd recommend adding another chapter
>> the book. Typically I've seen Getting Started chapters that tell you
>> the basics of getting up and running with the app, where to find help,
>> to use the documentation, etc. I'd also include a QuickStart Tutorial
>> chapter that contains the beginner info for that 10-15% of the audience.
>> This allows you to write specifically to that audience without
>> the experienced users with "elementary" information.
>> Also in keeping with Len's suggestion, I'd use x-refs sprinkled
>> the doc to refer users back to the Tutorial chapter (especially for more
>> advanced functions).
>> If you do decide to go with the QuickStart chapter, you'll need to make
>> hard decisions about what should go in there - it probably can't answer
>> the questions that your beginners need (otherwise that chapter will end
>> being half the length of the rest of the book!). It can, however, hold
>> hands at least part of the way and point them in the direction they need
>> go, which can help them answer most of their questions.
>> In terms of the organization of the functions, most of the docs I've seen
>> and written have been organized alphabetically. I've done some usability
>> testing and informal surveys of programmers, and they all agree that this
>> the way they like to get info, this is the way they're used to getting
>> and this is the way they expect to get info (a few of them are quite
>> emphatic about it).
>> In terms of references, my suggestions are:
>> 1. The Microsoft Manual of Style
>> 2. Read This First (the Sun Style Guide - an excellent tool!)
>> 3. other Programmers Guides or Reference Guides from competitor products
>> similar products - it never hurts to cherry pick some of the best ideas
>> other documents that are done well!
>> Hope this helps, and let us know what you decided to do!
>> Leslie Johnson
>> Calgary, Alberta
>> YES Consultants Ltd.
>> www.yesconsults.com
>> ljohnson -at- yesconsults -dot- com
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