RE: installation doc

Subject: RE: installation doc
From: Christina Rothwell <crothwell -at- bowstreet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2001 09:29:31 -0500

It sounds like a great start. You may want to ask yourself the following

* Does this book guide users from installation to the point where they can
get the product up and running? Do users have to configure the software
after installation in order to use it? If so, that should be in the guide.

* Is the user interface frozen for the installation? Engineers love to
change the user interface in the installation, especially right before
shipping (don't ask me why, I guess it just adds to the excitement :) ).
Rather than providing screen shots of every field, I prefer to explain the
fields on the screen. Yes, I have seen folks provide a screen shot of just a
screen with a Next button. Don't ask me why they doubt the user would have
difficultly determining whether to click the Next button. :) And, that leads
me to the next bulleted item.

* Is it OK if I don't document "click Next"? It depends on the product you
are documenting and your audience. If your software is for an advanced
audience (let's say network engineers), your audience may prefer you explain
the installation choices and fields rather than lead them through click Next
hell. What information can you offer that is not provided in the
installation? The users know through the installation program when to click
Next. What information will the user need to know before starting the
installation? Don't you hate it when you are in the middle of installing
something, and you are asked to provide information that requires you to
stop the installation? Wouldn't it be great if you knew that ahead of time?

* How self-guided is the installation? I know this is not always possible,
but you may want to work with your installation engineer to make sure the
installation is as self-guided as possible.

* Does one of the first steps of the installation refer to your pre
requisites section? For example, 1. read "Pre Requisites" on page XXX. I
have found users go right to the installation steps and forget to read the
pre requisite section.

Installations are always changing until the last minute. It can be a lot of
fun (I know I sound a little psycho :) ), as long as you remember to
document the why's and how's of the installation rather than documenting the
installation program.

Good luck!

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