December 27, 2005


Well the holidays are upon us, so most of the office is empty. One product of mine is nearing the beta phase, so I've been consolidating the documentation into the installer build. What's in there now is definitely good enough for beta, and really only has a few issues. The interesting (perhaps troubling) thing is that our document review process requires certain steps to be taken after beta. This means that while the developers can front-load a lot of their work before beta (which is a good thing, don't get me wrong :-)), I have to wait until after beta to move the review process past a certain point. So in that sense it's like "hurry up and wait!" This situation makes sense though, because we don't want to get the documentation into its final stages before beta ships. We often integrate a lot of customer feedback during the beta program, as any good software company should, and a lot of that feedback changes the documentation. So our almost-final signoff phase is reserved for after beta. In this case though, there might not be that big a window between beta shipment and product shipment. So while the documentation might be in decent shape, there's still several more review processes I might have to cram into a short amount of time.

In addition to all this, work is beginning on a completely new (version 1.0) product. I've been assigned to the documentation and I'm having fun learning about what the product does and how it serves customers. Documenting a 1.0 product is an interesting challenge I've watched several other LV tech writers take. You get to be in on the ground floor, and if you're good, you're able to shape the terminology and how people think/talk about the product features. The usability feedback us tech writers provide also comes into play at this early stage, when all we have go to on are screenshots of dialog boxes and stuff like that.

This evening, I'm flying back to Maryland to visit my family. Happy new year, all!


  1. Ryan, I'd love to see a breakdown of your documentation review process. I'm always interested in user centered design and quality control in the area of documentation. ;D

  2. I'll talk to someone and see if I can describe it on here :-)