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Browse Prior Art Database

Multiple Views of Product Information

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000117308D
Original Publication Date: 1996-Feb-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-31
Document File: 8 page(s) / 202K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Hill, P: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

It can be very difficult to produce effective documentation for a complex product for three reasons: o The product needs a substantial amount of documentation. (For example, each version of CICS needs about 9000 pages.) o Different users have different "information needs". A new user needs to be led step-by-step through common tasks, and often doesn't have time to learn and understand the concepts of the product beforehand; new users tend to want a task-oriented" view. An experienced user gradually evolves a deeper understanding of the product close to the understanding that the original product developers have; experienced users often want a "function-oriented" view. o The documentation is produced by several writers and is spread across many books.

This text was extracted from an ASCII text file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 24% of the total text.

Multiple Views of Product Information

      It can be very difficult to produce effective documentation for
a complex product for three reasons:
  o  The product needs a substantial amount of documentation.  (For
      example, each version of CICS needs about 9000 pages.)
  o  Different users have different "information needs".  A new user
      needs to be led step-by-step through common tasks, and often
      doesn't have time to learn and understand the concepts of the
      product beforehand; new users tend to want a task-oriented"
view.
      An experienced user gradually evolves a deeper understanding of
      the product close to the understanding that the original
product
      developers have; experienced users often want a
      "function-oriented" view.
  o  The documentation is produced by several writers and is spread
      across many books.  In the case of CICS, for example, there are
      about 30 books; and for most of these books there is a
different
      version for each platform that CICS runs on.  It is very
      difficult to ensure that the information continues to meet the
      traditional requirements such as consistency, accuracy, and
ease
      of understanding, and also meets the newer requirements of
      exploiting modern on-line access techniques and being produced
at
      the lowest possible cost.

The procedure described below, using a database approach, provides an
effective solution.
  1.  Classifying the existing information
        Take the existing set of information (e.g., 9000 pages of
       documentation spread across 30 manuals, in a mixture of
       task-oriented and function-oriented style) and apply a
       classification scheme.
      a.  Analyze the existing information in order to design the
most
           appropriate classification scheme.  This is sometimes
known
           as an information architecture.  A classification scheme
for
           CICS could include the following categories:
          o  Functional area of product (down to two or more levels)
          o  User task: e.g., planning, installation, customization,
              application programming, ...
          o  Type of information: e.g., basic introduction, detailed
              reference, worked example, ...
      b.  Work through the documentation and assign the correct
           classification to each discrete piece of information.
Some
           pieces of information may need to be assigned more than
one
           classification.  To permit subsequent retrieval and
           identification, the classification data would be
supplemented
           by the following:
          o  Book: name of existing hardcopy book containing the
 ...