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DOC Tables of Contents: 848586888990919293949596979899000102030405

ACM 13th International Conference on Systems Documentation

Fullname:13th International Conference on Systems Documentation
Note:Emerging from Chaos: Solutions for the Growing Complexity of Our Jobs
Location:Savannah, Georgia
Dates:1995-Oct-02 to 1995-Oct-04
Publisher:ACM
Standard No:ISBN 0-89791-713-8; ACM Order Number 613950; ACM DL: Table of Contents hcibib: DOC95
Papers:27
Pages:206
Performance Support: Online, Integrated Documentation and Training BIBAPDF 1-10
  William R. Bezanson
The pressures of modern business have precipitated new approaches to supporting workers' operations. One such approach, performance support, is described in this paper.
   The business problems are outlined, and performance support and performance support systems (PSSs) are defined. The work in this area at Bell-Northern Research Ltd. (BNR) is described, including results of a PSS pilot project. Performance support is described in more depth, including a sample scenario of a day at the office with a PSS, a survey of the PSS industry, and a discussion of applications that are suitable for PSSs. Then a summary is given of critical success factors, benefits, and challenges for PSS implementation. The paper concludes by discussing PSS roles for writers and trainers, and by summarizing recommendations for groups that are investigating performance support techniques.
Technical Communicators' Current Views on Usability and Collaboration BIBAPDF 11-19
  Par Carlshamre; Joanna L. Tumminello
For more than a decade, technical communicators (TC) have argued that their vast experience communicating with users and communicating technology to users should be put to better use in the systems development process. They stipulate that their early involvement in the process would benefit the overall usability of delivered systems. A few studies from the late eighties (e.g., Grudin and Poltrock, 1989; Chisholm, 1988) indicated that problems with implementing this idea remained. To determine if these difficulties were still present was one major impetus behind this small bicultural survey.
   Further motivation came from the Delta study (see, Carlshamre, 1994a, 1994b), in which close collaboration between TCs and system developers (SDs) was the subject of an in-depth study. The analysis revealed several obstacles to such close collaboration, including cultural, technical, and managerial problems. Because the Delta study involved only one office, we were interested in discovering whether the findings were specific to that office, or if their validity could be extended to a wider context, perhaps even to different cultures. Consequently, we wanted to examine two geographically and otherwise culturally separate groups to determine what cultural similarities and differences, if any, could be established between the two groups. Specifically, our research questions were both descriptive and normative:
  • How important is the concept of usability in the work of the TC, and what
       impact does this have on the development process?
  • Is it common practice that TCs and SDs collaborate in systems development,
       and if not, what do the TCs think is the reason for this?
  • What are the most prominent obstacles in the work of the TC, and what could
       be done to overcome these?
  • Could any clear differences be established between American and Swedish TCs,
       with respect to these questions? Based on these questions, we set out to interview five American TCs and five Swedish TCs about their views on their own roles in systems development.
       The results indicate that TCs are potentially valuable usability resources, but they are systematically restrained by their own organizations from exercising usability-oriented activities.
       Below, we briefly describe the methodology used. Then, the results are presented, followed by a discussion of the findings, and conclusions.
  • Publishing Online, A Commercial (Ad)Venture BIBAPDF 20-25
      Nancy Cooke; David McAllister
    Boson Books is an imprint of C&M Online Media Inc. The company provides electronic books for sale on the World Wide Web. It offers authors copyright, ISBN, and Library of Congress registration. The standard royalty fee is 20%, considerably more than the standard print royalty. One of our goals in founding Boson Books is to discover what books the Internet audience likes to read. To that end Boson Books offers fiction, nonfiction, drama, including screenplays, and poetry. Another is to improve the publishing situation for writers. Finally, Boson Books explores the use of sound and visual effects on the Internet.
    Creating an Elegant, Intuitive, User Interface BIBAPDF 26-33
      Mary Margaret Couse
    This paper describes our experiences doing usability testing of the user interface (UI) and online documentation for Magellan ServiceMonitor. Rather than waiting for a finished user interface to document, we undertook our efforts right up front in the product development process. We based the usability test on Sophie Kohn Kaminsky's "Do-It-Yourself Usability Test" (see "Test Early, Test Often" in the SIGDOC Conference Proceedings, Ottawa, October, 1992). This paper shows our testing methodology, the benefits we have seen, and implications for the profession of technical writing.
    Logistics of Integrating Online Help, Documentation, and Training: A Practical Example BIBAPDF 34-38
      R. Stanley Dicks; Scott Lind
    At last year's SIGDOC Conference we discussed the rationale, rhetorical approach, advantages, problems, and implications for the industry of integrating online help, documentation, and training. At that time, we had achieved the integration on paper only and were in the process of beginning to integrate the system online. This year we have completed the transition and we now have a fully functional, completely integrated online system for Bellcore's Technology Management Module (TMM). In this session, we will discuss the logistics of moving from the paper version to the online version, and we will then demonstrate the system.
    Development of the AT&T PersonaLink Services Online Documentation System BIBAPDF 39-48
      Ronald L. Enfield
    An online documentation system can provide network operators with the information to conduct network management by exception. The AT&T PersonaLink Services Network, based on innovative Telescript technology, never before used in an operating network, had network node performance characteristics that were unknown at the outset. To insure the network could operate under normal conditions as well as failures, a great deal of effort went into the design of monitoring and control features for the network management system (NMS).
       Personnel at the Network Operations Center (NOC) operate the network remotely through the NMS, using methods and procedures that were developed for this service. The online documentation system serves as the network operators' reference for carrying out those procedures.
    Contractor Management for the 90s and Beyond BIBAPDF 49-57
      Hugh J. Findlay
    Corporate subcontracting is a booming business in the technical documentation field and is expected to continue to grow. In the wake of widespread downsizing, industries are increasingly augmenting their thinning ranks with a modern-day version of the hired gun: the contract writer. Contract writers are skilled, temporary professionals thriving in a climate of job insecurity where corporate budgets are cut like sides of beef and full-time personnel are squeezed to produce at maximum efficiency. Benefits-barren and dollar-driven, contractors represent the future of the next decade in both employment and entrepreneurial opportunity. Experts estimate that the country's corporate workforce will comprise 30 to 60 percent contract laborers as we approach the turn of the century. Who are these contractors? How are they affecting the industry? And how can they be successfully managed?
    Webbed Documents BIBAPDF 58-62
      Malcolm Graham; Andrew Surray
    This paper describes the work currently being done within Northern Telecom (Nortel) Department X754 (located in Ottawa, Canada) to resolve problems with:
  • distributing documents for internal review;
  • ensuring that documents are available for review;
  • printing documents at remote locations; and
  • reading documents on different computing platforms. These problems are being resolved by:
  • using Web technology to distribute documents;
  • providing immediate online access to documents;
  • using a cross-platform, portable, file format;
  • providing document-navigation pages; and
  • using Netscape and Acrobat together.
  • Documentation Project Management: Some Problems and Solutions BIBAPDF 63-70
      Katherine Haramundanis
    Today's technical communicator, whether creating technical documents as paper or online, preparing courses/tutorials, developing multimedia brochures, preparing interactive materials, constructing hypermedia systems, or doing any of the many new tasks that fall within the purview of this field, often encounter major project management issues. These issues are frequently difficult to resolve. This paper discusses a few of these problems and proposes solutions. Case studies illustrate the issues.
    Real Information, Virtual Documents BIBAPDF 71-76
      Stephen L. Harris; James H. Ingram
    Information is the deliverable, not just documents. To minimize investment of time and resources, information developers can create libraries of reusable information elements, which in turn can be structured as virtual documents, i.e., file structures which contain multiple conditional document images.
       Information developers, technical writers, graphic designers, and others involved in information technology (IT) often must deal with a kind of professional dilemma. For many of us, information development is on-line, WYSIWYG, and paperless. When we are capturing and organizing information, we produce only application files with our publishing tools, eventually creating page and book images to be dumped to some printer. For the end-user, information only becomes "real" and accessible after we print it.
    Using the Internet to Send & Receive Documents & Automate the Office BIBAPDF 77-83
      Julie Jensen; Gregg Woodfin
    Like Edwin Land, the database team feels their task created an optimal working condition, despite technical problems and limitations as well as employee doubts and fears. We have successfully received information from more than 1, 300 employees, been able to create dynamic homepages for every employee, developed a search engine for identifying experts, provided online forms which every CST employee can access, and developed an expandable tool for communication and office automation.
    Delivering a Large Information Database BIBAPDF 84-93
      Christina L. Klein
    This paper discusses a current solution and presents possible future solutions for delivery of a large information database to our customers, both on paper and online.
       The information database discussed in this paper is authored by multiple software developers and is delivered to the customers by an information developer.
       The source information is structured within FrameMaker MIF files and compiled (restructured and reformatted) by a utility. The output document is a FrameMaker book, currently delivered on paper but destined for a future online.
       This paper presents the delivery process for an information database and related issues including:
  • change of roles for developers and information developers
  • design, development, and test procedures for the document compiler
  • construction of customized templates for source and output documents,
       including establishment and enforcement of syntax rules in the source
       document
  • identification and resolution of technical inaccuracies in the data
  • evolution and synchronization of templates for source and output documents in
       response to the evolution of the information database
  • editorial responsibilities for source and output documents
  • Integration of Information Development with Product Development BIBAPDF 94-100
      Brian Larmour; Roy MacLean
    Nortel is a global leader in the delivery of advanced telecommunications systems and products. Bell-Northern Research (BNR) is the research and development arm of Nortel.
       This paper will describe a product development process that integrates information development with product design and test. The roles of key participants in the process will be described. It also presents the team membership and the process used to re-engineer the existing product development process.
    Developing Hardcopy and Online Information for OS/2 and Windows...and Other Impossibilities BIBAPDF 101-105
      Michelle Corbin Nichols; Chuck Jaynes; Randy Eckhoff
    To be successful in a competitive marketplace, software applications must be developed for multiple platforms. Object-oriented programming languages make it increasingly easy for software developers to port programs from one platform to another. Unfortunately, the processes and tools for technical writers to create online information for multiple platforms have not developed as quickly or as far as tools for application developers. The problem of providing documentation for multiple platforms is compounded by the fact that our readers want both hardcopy manuals and online information.
    Implementing a Large Scale Windows Help System: Critical Success Factors and Lessons Learned BIBAPDF 106-115
      Kenneth R. Ohnemus
    Due to the sheer volume of information contained in CSC's corporate system development methodology, Catalyst, there was a high need to place this information on-line. The methodology consists of 15 books along with over 1,500 graphics. Having access to this information on-line would dramatically impact productivity. To help support users and facilitate the use of Catalyst, the Microsoft (MS) help system was used, in conjunction with RoboHELP to put Catalyst on-line in a hypertext format. Initially, this tool would be used by over 1,600 users, and eventually by upwards to 20,000 users. The design evolved over several months, through consistent user involvement. Determining how users could best utilize this product was especially important because of the large number of users. Feedback and usability concerns helped shape the final design. In order to be most effective, the limited functionality of the MS help system was extended to provide a more robust product. This paper discusses the challenges surrounding the design, development, and implementation of a large scale windows help system, which is approximately 53 MB in size (33 MB when fully compressed).
    Hyperintelligence -- A Total Work Support Tool BIBAPDF 116-123
      Hironao Ozu; Taiji Tsuchida; Mikio Sasaki
    This paper discusses 'Hyperintelligence' system and its functions. Hyperintelligence is a total work support system, not only for office works, but also for field works, in which process and transaction information are key factors.
       When a worker encounters new work, s(he) might refer and re-use a similar work process and its results from the past, to do it efficiently. So, an engineering or business application program generally supports to store the work functions and the results. But, when a worker uses several application programs in a complex manner, only small amount of work could be accumulated.
       In Hyperintelligence, working processes and transactions are accumulated automatically, while a worker uses this system. The worker can easily improve either working procedures or transactions independently, to make the work more efficient, and store them in a database.
       We confirmed that the basic functions of Hyperintelligence are useful, by applying it to two kinds of work; maintenance work and office work using Internet.
    On-Line Design for a Single-Sourced Document: Maintaining a Single Source for Online and Hardcopy Without Sacrificing Online Usability BIBAPDF 124-129
      Michael Priestley
    The VisualAge C++ for OS/2 User's Guide is an 1100 page book, and a 4 Meg online document. It is maintained in a source format called BookMaster, which is a Generalized Markup Language. For the online build, the source is customised with macros and conditional processing directives, and converted to IPF (a similar markup language for online information). Although the User's Guide is a new book, much of its content existed in other forms in previous releases of the product. Much of the source was from hardcopy-only documents, which had been written with the constraints of hardcopy in mind. This paper concentrates on the design issues involved in customising existing hardcopy information for online, without compromising its hardcopy appearance, or sacrificing the maintainability that justifies a single-sourced document.
       See the paper The VisualAge C++ for OS/2 User's Guide: a multi-writer, single-sourcing challenge by Priestley and Rintjema (also in SIGDOC 95) for illustrations of the hardcopy and online formats.
    The VisualAge C++ for OS/2 User's Guide: A Multi-Writer, Single-Sourcing Challenge BIBAPDF 130-137
      Michael Priestley; Laura Rintjema
    VisualAge C++ (previously C Set++) is a suite of tools for application development, including a visual development environment, a compiler, a debugger, and class libraries. In the previous release, each of the components had separate documentation: the compiler, linker, debugger, browser, and various other tools all had their own guides. Most of this information was available in hardcopy (paper) form only, but some of it was available only online. Very little information was available in both formats, and there was no consistent mapping between the coverage of the online documentation and the hardcopy books.
       Customers identified the scattered hardcopy documentation, and the lack of equivalent online documentation, as two key shortcomings of the product information. In response, we consolidated the information as much as possible, concentrating it into three main areas:
  • language (documenting the actual use of the C and C++ languages)
  • class libraries (documenting the class libraries provided with the product,
       that extend the functionality of the languages by providing common routines
       and structures)
  • the compiler, linker, and other tools and utilities This third category formed the basis for the User's Guide, which was to be available in both hardcopy and online versions.
  • The System is a Mirror: Turbulence and Information Technology BIBPDF 138-147
      Stuart Robbins
    Preparing for ISO 9000 Registration: The Role of the Technical Communicator BIBAPDF 148-154
      Katie Schuler
    Now, more than ever, technical communicators are being forced to justify the necessity of their jobs. Due to current trends in corporate downsizing, technical communication jobs are being minimized, and in some cases, eliminated altogether. Many companies are cutting full time technical writing positions, and adopting the process of hiring contract or part time technical writers.
       One of the reasons for this trend is the belief that technical communicators document only "finished products", and are best used during the final phases of a project. However, we have recently begun to challenge these outdated notions. For example, we have begun to explore ways in which the technical communicator can play a more visible role in the design team -- by filling usability gaps in product development teams, writing and editing requirements and specifications documents, and so forth.
       However, many companies still fail to recognize the added value that good technical writing skills can provide on a long-term basis. In addition to writing and editing product documentation, technical communicators can make substantial contributions to writing and organizing the documents that describe and define the organizational structure of a company.
       If we hope to keep our jobs and further our profession, we must begin to show our employers that we can offer benefits beyond simply "getting a manual out the door". We must begin to seek opportunities in other areas of the organization. We must focus on tasks that will offer more long-term benefits for our employers.
    Documentation Design Decisions: Accounting for Customer Preferences BIBAPDF 155-156
      Karl L. Smart; Kristen Bell DeTienne; Matthew E. Whitting
    Numerous factors affect document design decisions. At times, corporate needs and costs take precedence over customer preferences in the design process. This research examines customer documentation preferences with the release of a popular word processing application. The results of a 400-page sample survey of customer preferences are discussed in relationship to other factors involved in making documentation design decisions.
    Towards a New Generation of Authoring Tools BIBAPDF 157-161
      Rick Sobiesak
    Tools for developing user documentation span a wide range of categories, including document processors, desktop publishing systems, help compilers, tutorial systems, and multimedia authoring environments. Many of these tools (such as those described by Walker [7]) are designed with professional writers in mind. However, user documentation, particularly that for commercial software applications, is often produced by "part-time" writers who must balance many other roles.
       This paper describes a study that looked at how user documentation for commercial applications is developed. The study found that this activity is often the responsibility of non-professional writers who face many problems in developing documentation. An analysis of these problems was used to propose five key issues for the next generation of authoring tools.
    The Electronic RFP: Changing the Way BIBAPDF 162-170
      Gail Thornburg
    The paperwork burden is a term coined to describe the massive flux of documents and information transferred between federal government agencies and the private companies who do business with them. While some agencies can boast sophisticated information systems, the Request for Proposal [RFP] interface is usually a paper-oriented system, with hundreds or thousands of pages of requirements and regulations for even a modest RFP.
       This is a report of one prototype system for meeting the contracting needs of both government and private sector, in an electronic environment. This does not mean simply using electronic systems to generate paper output, though even this has shown its challenges. It means enabling production, assembly, and actual electronic publishing of RFPs, accepting electronic proposals in response to the RFPs, and post-RFP electronic selection of proposal to be awarded a contract.
    Personalized Information Structures II: Hyperstructure Hotlists BIBAKPDF 171-180
      Scott R. Tilley; Walter M. Lamia
    This paper describes ongoing research into the use of a domain-retargetable reverse engineering environment to aid the structural understanding of large information spaces. In particular, it presents follow-on work on the use of the environment in the documentation and hypertext domain. This programmable environment has been integrated with a popular World Wide Web browser to support hyperstructure hotlists: an approach to managing link complexity, organizing conceptual themes, and aiding Internet navigation through the use of multiple virtual webs.
    Keywords: Hyperstructure, Reverse engineering, World Wide Web
    Where Campus Meets the Internet: A Universally Accessible Online Documentation System BIBAPDF 181-188
      Susan Topol; Mark Smith; Suzanne Schluederberg
    With paper distribution of documents exceeding one million copies in a single year and better access to network connectivity and software tools across campus, the time had come to improve the online documentation offerings for University of Michigan faculty, staff, and students.
       The new online system needed to fit into our distributed campus computing environment, and had to be easy to maintain and update. It had to use tools and workstation platforms that our users already had and were familiar with, so that no steep learning curve or new equipment purchases were required in order to use the system. And, it had to operate over both high-speed network connections and slower-speed dial-in connections.
    Creating Custom SGML DTDs for Documentation Products BIBAPDF 189-196
      Bradley C. Watson; Keith Shafer
    A case is presented for cost-effectively creating custom DTDs for an organization by non-SGML experts using tools that automatically create DTDs from tagged text. Such tools make it practical and easy to create DTDs without having to hire consultants or invest heavily to develop internal SGML expertise. The specific tool focused on is the SGML Document Grammar Builder, a tool developed at OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc.
    Knowledge Acquisition and Representation Techniques in Scholarly Communication BIBAPDF 197-206
      Brian R. Gaines; Mildred L. G. Shaw
    Paper journals, conferences and workshops have been the major media for scholarly discourse for 300 years. However, in the 1990s access to low-cost personal computing and Internet communications is leading to radical changes in the operation of scholarly communities. Electronic publication and conferencing is becoming common in all disciplines using commonly available Internet facilities such as ftp archives, list servers, gopher and world-wide web. Some scholarly communities that had not previously achieved a critical mass have done so through the net, others have launched major collaborative projects managed through the net, and others are questioning the value of conventional conferences that are limited by being localized in space and time compared with the flexibility of continuous international electronic conferencing through the web. However, the majority of current electronic scholarly discourse emulates paper-based media in relying primarily on text and diagrams for knowledge communication. It is beginning to take advantage of some of the multimedia capabilities of electronic publishing for color diagrams, pictures, movies and sound. Hypertext and hypermedia capabilities are being used to develop webs of linked material. Concept maps and formal knowledge structures are being used to provide a framework for knowledge expression, interchange and collaborative development. This article focuses on the extension of current documentation technologies to provide knowledge-level support for scholarly communities.
    Note: From the SIGDOC '94 Conference