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DOC Tables of Contents: 8283848586888990919293949596979899000102

ACM Tenth International Conference on Systems Documentation

Fullname:Tenth International Conference on Systems Documentation
Note:Going Online: The New World of Multimedia Documentation
Location:Ottawa, Canada
Dates:1992-Oct-13 to 1992-Oct-16
Publisher:ACM
Standard No:ISBN 0-89791-532-1, 0-89791-533-X (ppk); ACM Order Number 613920; ACM DL: Table of Contents hcibib: DOC92
Papers:40
Pages:328
Electronic Documentation System: Using Automated Hypertext Techniques for Technical Support Services BIBAPDF 1-6
  V. Konstantinou; P. Morse
The Electronic Documentation System, was developed to provide fast, easy, online information retrieval, meeting a specific need for engineering industries. It addresses the requirements of both the user and the author of electronic documentation and provides a viewing system that can be used across a variety of platforms. It also takes advantage of sophisticated cross-referencing techniques to automate the development of electronic documents.
A Critical Assessment of the Minimalist Approach to Documentation BIBAPDF 7-17
  Hans van der Meij
Carroll's (1991) minimal manual has been considered an important advance in teaching first-time users the basics of computer programs. Unfortunately, it is not very clear what minimalism really means. Practitioners, for example, will find it difficult to create their own minimal manual because the principles of minimalism have not been described in enough detail (see Horn, 1992; Tripp, 1990). It is also not yet settled that a minimalist approach is the most effective one because critical experiments have hardly been conducted. This study therefore closely examines the minimalist principles and claims.
   This paper describes the basic ideas of minimalism, its design principles and how they can be operationalized. A parallel is drawn between a minimalist and constructivist perspective on learning and instruction. Like minimalism, constructivism places a high value on experience-based learning in context-rich environments. Like minimalism, it stresses the need to capitalize on the learner's prior knowledge as much as possible. And like minimalism, constructivists urge learners to follow their own plans and goals, to make inferences, and to abstract principles from what they experience (see Duffy & Jonassen, 1991, 1992).
   An experiment is reported that examines the claims of minimalism. Strong and significant gains on several factors were found, all favoring the minimal manual over a control (conventional) manual. The discussion points to several issues that minimalism has yet to address.
Internationalizing Online Information BIBAPDF 19-25
  Carla Kary Merrill; Marjorie Shanoski
In order to attract and keep customers in growing international markets, businesses must plan for reliable and efficient translation of their product information. Information that is not designed with translation in mind often requires complete redesign before it can be successfully translated. In our documentation projects at SEI, we help our clients avoid costly redesign by being aware of the design constraints of internationalizing information and by using online techniques that help us stay within those constraints. In this paper we describe some of the constraints that translation imposes on the design of online information. We discuss the problems translators encounter if developers and writers ignore these constraints. Finally, we offer practical examples of tools and techniques for writing online information. We show how they allow us to deal effectively with the constraints of internationalization.
Developing Hypertext Documents for an International Audience BIBAPDF 27-34
  Elizabeth S. Spragins
The increasingly global nature of technical communication has considerable implications for the development of on-line databases and hypertext documents. When the potential audience for a given text transcends national boundaries, the issues of text development become more complex. The fundamental task of defining such an audience requires the consideration of many variables other than familiarity with the subject matter and the hypertext format; the writer must address individuals who differ greatly with respect to language proficiency, rhetorical expectations, and cultural background. Since a hypertext system is based on association rather than indexing, it can generate multiple layers of text that correspond to each level of such a diverse audience.
Navigating Online Information: A Characterization of Extralinguistic Factors that Influence User Behavior BIBAKPDF 35-46
  Brad Mehlenbacher
The paper examines the extralinguistic factors that influence user behavior with online information systems. Extralinguistic factors include any interface features which are "outside" how users understand and comprehend written texts online. Extralinguistic features, therefore, are interface features that support (1) how users formulate their information goals or represent their tasks, (2) how users navigate to new or related topics of interest to them, and (3) how users quickly scan (rather than read) online information. It is argued that text comprehension is only one task that users engage in when using online information systems. A model of online user behavior that includes goal setting, navigating, scanning, and text comprehension is outlined. I argue that a broader definition of online information use is necessary and discuss various design principles for avoiding communication breakdowns before users reach their desired information. Finally, I conclude by suggesting that a Participatory Design Approach to the design of human-computer interfaces is one method of undermining our tendency, as software designers, to apply design advice and guidelines without first accounting for user tasks and information goals.
Keywords: Design principles, GOMS analysis, Navigation, Participatory design, User behavior
Test Early, Test Often: A Formative Usability Kit for Writers BIBAPDF 47-55
  Sophie Kohn Kaminsky
Current methods of designing software products and documentation make it more possible to do early and frequent usability testing than ever before. This is particularly true with online documentation.
   The technique of prototyping combined with the fact that many customers of software products are accessible to development groups for consultation about products, interfaces, and documents under construction reduce the logistical barriers to usability testing.
   Therefore, writers now have an opportunity to do their own testing of their emerging documentation ideas. A kit has been developed to help writers take advantage of this potential opportunity.
   The kit is called "Formative Usability" to distinguish it from "Summative Usability". The emphasis is on iterative tests which point out immediate improvements that can be made long before the documentation is complete.
A Multimedia and Multisource Document Editor of an Open Architecture BIBAKPDF 57-62
  Jin-Kun Lin
Two of the recent developments in electronic documents are multimedia and hypermedia systems. Current multimedia systems are limited because they can not contain general third-party media in their documents. Hypermedia systems can only link documents together and cannot merge documents into compound documents.
   To overcome these limitations, we have implemented a prototype editor to create documents on the X Window system. Not only it opens a door for general third-party media tools to be integrated in documents, but it also allows users to compose compound documents with other documents. The corresponding metaphor for the manipulation of included media is fold-and-paste. The folded media are clipped by viewports and displayed by live processes that operate on the original copies. The key technique used to provide these functions is embedded virtual screens.
   With the simple and powerful mechanism of embedded virtual screens, our editor is a multimedia and multisource document editor of an open architecture with regard to containing general media in its compound documents. It expands the capability in composing multimedia documents and it provides a simple mechanism to create documents that share some information with each other.
Keywords: Multimedia, Editor, X window systems, User interface
A Multiple Presentation Document Management System BIBAPDF 63-71
  Augusto Celentano; Silvano Pozzi; Donato Toppeta
The paper proposes an approach to the definition of a document management system oriented to the support of cooperative activities based on multiple-presentation documents. In our view, multiple-presentation means that the informative content of a document can be presented to the reader by using different shapes, styles and levels of detail, according to the reader profile. The Zelig document management system is based on the definition of an only conceptual (i.e. abstract) document, which is mapped to several concrete documents, each used to fulfil a different communication goal. A prototype implementation of the Zelig system has been carried out within the MS-Windows environment.
Online Information and Reduced Interval in Publishing: Impact on the Information Developing Cycle BIBAPDF 73-77
  Peter Fournier
The reduction in the time required to publish online information in the CAD/CAM writing group in BNR is forcing writers into a more iterative approach to planning, writing, getting approval for, and fixing documentation. This is the natural result of reduced internal in software development. Online documentation has become the only option for keeping up with the software. It is the only medium that allows writers to produce documentation in parallel with software development, production and distribution.
   More iteration, more frequent distribution, and especially shorter production intervals has required significant changes in the documentation development process. These changes are solving some problems and creating or exacerbating others.
Seven (Plus or Minus Two) Things to Remember about Producing Multimedia Documentation BIBAPDF 79-86
  John Johnson; Catherine Titta
Producing multimedia documentation requires a new view of a technical communicator's roles, skills, and responsibilities.
Converting to Online: A Case History BIBAPDF 87-95
  Anne Harrington
Moving information from print to online is not a simple matter of moving text and illustrations from one format to another. One of the most difficult problems for a writer who is learning to move information from the printed page to the screen is developing a mindset for presenting information in the new medium. Online information must be designed for the screen. This involves deconstructing the paper manual and reassembling it for the online medium to make information accessible and readable on the screen. To accomplish this, certain concepts of the "book" must be abandoned before online design can begin. This paper discusses how I used DECwindows Hotspots, a hypertext tool, to provide hypertext lists of topics as alternative navigation through an online book. This paper also describes a one-page hypertext table that served as a 'front end' to the equivalent of sixty-eight pages of information, and a hypertext design for an online "page" for a reference manual.
Online Help: Exploring Static Information or Constructing Personal and Collaborative Solutions Using Hypertext BIBAPDF 97-101
  Dickie Selfe; Stuart Selber; Dan McGavin; Johndan Johnson-Eilola; Carol Brown
We discuss the evolution of online help: book-oriented, exploratory, and constructive. Book-oriented online help mirrors paper-based documentation: it is relatively static, linear, and is structured in a manner familiar to most users; but this type of online help is often not efficient at responding to the complex demands of specific users and tasks. Hypertext-based online help -- either exploratory or constructive -- offers an alternative model addressing some of the limitations of book-oriented online help. Exploratory online help takes advantage of a higher level of interactivity. It is possible to create multiple paths in a document, but it is more complex to navigate (because less familiar to users) than books. Constructive online help represents a higher level of complexity, customization, and interactivity. It can provide a higher level of feedback between users, managers, and developers. It can encourage users to reconceptualize projects and work habits but may require time to construct and gatekeep to avoid cognitive overload.
Monitoring User Actions in the Hypertext System "HyperMan" BIBAPDF 103-113
  A. Myka; U. Guntzer; F. Sarre
The hypertext system "HyperMan" provides for an automatic conversion of linear machine-readable documents into hypertexts by applying text partitioning and link generation methods. After completion of the generation process, the graphical user interface of the system enables users to browse through the converted documents very easily. To determine whether user actions allow conclusions to be drawn about a generated hypertext, a special component that records user actions has been integrated into the system. In this way sequences of actions can be identified that provide hints of relationships between two document passages or between two terms that occur in the text. Then, the relationships can be stored as links or thesaurus entries, respectively, in the system's data base and can be made available to subsequent users. In addition to acquiring relationships, the user observation component also provides for hints about the acceptance of system components. These hints can serve as a basis for further development of the system.
CODEDOCs: Executable Documents for Documenters: The End of the Passive User Guide BIBAPDF 115-119
  Philip Buxton; Peter Fournier; Peter Sturgeon
What began as research into the creation of an automated toolset for writers, using embedded executable code in documents, or CODEDOCs, has evolved into a re-examination of the user guide as a construct in documentation suites.
   The CODEDOC redefines the traditional user guide, by integrating the documentation and the application into a seamless whole. The prototype discussed in this paper specifically assists documenters in the management of templates. There are many more possibilities for both documenters and general users.
User Information Processing Strategies and Online Visual Structure BIBAPDF 121-128
  Elizabeth Keyes; Robert Krull
Previous work has argued that:
  • users' mental load is lower when information is chunked on CRT screens,
  • users employ expectations about the sequence and order of information when
       they scan online information. Both these imply that users' mental load can be reduced if designers place screen chunks in the order expected by users, especially if this is done based on a limited set of consistently applied design rules
       Other research in human cognition and in layout and design has shown that users are able to handle higher levels of complexity if information is layered or staged at multiple levels.
       This paper builds on that work by taking into consideration:
  • users' sense of the whole and the segmentation into parts of CRT information
       panels;
  • designers' use of multiple cueing to signal information structures and make
       users' scanning and random access strategies more effective. In forging this extension, we will draw on two kinds of research:
  • We will reapply findings from information theory that explain how people
       manage complexity.
  • We will consider how the layout grid from printed documentation can support
       users' dynamic searching within (micro) and among (macro) panels of online
       information.
  • Choosing a Medium for Your Message: What Determines the Choice of Delivery Media for Technical Documentation? BIBAPDF 129-133
      Harry J. Saddler; Lori E. Kaplan
    The current variety of media available to developers of technical documentation makes possible a richness of expression that goes beyond traditional conceptions. Rich and effective documentation can result from a judicious combination of media. The introduction of new media techniques to the traditions of technical documentation creates not only new opportunities, but new problems as well.
       This paper presents a case study of an ongoing project at Apple Computer that encountered numerous such opportunities and problems. We show what gave rise to them, how we dealt with them, and finally present some guidelines for documentation teams contemplating going "beyond the book."
    A Method for Editing Visual Components of Multimedia Documentation BIBAPDF 135-143
      Kristin Dukay; Patricia Locke; Charles Tyrone
    Existing methods for editing technical documentation were developed for printed documentation that communicates primarily via text. There is growing recognition that visuals are an important part of printed technical documentation; however, very little emphasis is placed on editing visual components.
       Multimedia documentation relies heavily on visual components for communication power. Therefore, any systematic edit of multimedia documentation should include a method for editing visual components. In this paper, we illustrate a method for editing such components using, as a model, an established method for editing technical documentation: the levels of edit method.
    Standardization: Problems of Interchange and Delivery of Documentation Online BIBAPDF 145-147
      Dale Dougherty
    The first generation of online documentation systems are closed systems that bind a single body of information to the software required for delivery and access. The next generation of online documentation systems will be "open systems" developed around standards that allow information to be integrated from multiple sources. These online documentation systems will not be limited to the delivery of computer documentation but should provide a gateway to all kinds of information essential to a user, even information created by the user.
       This paper describes how the standardization of online documentation systems might be achieved by standardizing the information, not the technology. It describes the formation of the Davenport Group and its support of SGML, the Standard Generalized Markup Language (ISO/IEC 8879), and "HyTime", the Hypermedia/Time-based Structuring Language (ISO/IEC 10744).
    Linking Object Oriented Database and Hypertext to Support Software Documentation BIBAPDF 149-156
      Bing Wang; Peter Hitchcock; Tony Holden
    This paper describes using a general hypertext-based system InterSect to support the definition and manipulation of software documentation. Object oriented database is used as a basis for supporting both the application modelling and hypertext. There are two main advantages, firstly, InterSect supports both application modelling and corresponding hypertext structure dynamically; Secondly, InterSect supports versions of any complex object type.
    Graph-Based Retrieval of Information in Hypertext Systems BIBAPDF 157-168
      Yuri Quintana; Mohamed Kamel; Andrew Lo
    Current hypertext systems have no intelligent means for finding specific information. When searching for specific information (as opposed to browsing), users can get disoriented in large hypertext documents and may end up following a path that takes them farther away from the information they seek. This paper describes an information retrieval system called HRS (Hypertext Retrieval System) that allows users to retrieve information in hypertext documents based on its semantic content. HRS is comprised of an authoring system, a browser, and a graph-based information retrieval facility. The graph-based retrieval facility allows users to retrieve specific information in hypertext documents by posing English language queries. The retrieval facility is based on the use of Conceptual Graphs, a knowledge representation scheme. The English language queries posed by users are automatically converted to Conceptual Graphs by a parser. The information in hypertext documents is also represented using Conceptual Graphs. Query processing is treated as a graph matching process, and retrieval is performed by a semantic based search. This technology is useful for retrieval of information in large knowledge domains where a user needs to find specific information and does not know the organization of the hypertext document or the words used in the document. The paper concludes that natural language retrieval of information in hypertext documents can provide users with both the browsing capabilities of hypertext and the semantic search capabilities of natural language query processing.
    Online Help: A Part of Documentation BIBAPDF 169-174
      Susan D. Goodall
    A few years ago, online help was an after thought; a nice extra that was seldom used. Today, online help is a necessary part of all software products and one of the factors that determine the success of personal computer (PC) products in the marketplace. Users expect a personal computer product to have online help and expect the help to be easy to use and complete. Software reviewers evaluate online help when they rate the usability of a PC product in newspaper and magazine articles. Potential customers include online help when they compare the documentation provided with rival products and many make online help a required feature for any PC product they purchase.
       The increased importance of online help has forced writers to re-evaluate the standard documentation set and change the design of user manuals, reference guides, and tutorials. This paper shows how online help has changed, examines how it affects the standard PC documentation set, and then describes how to create and implement a documentation plan that makes online help an integral part of the PC documentation set.
       I have been designing, implementing, and writing online help for the past six years. My early experience with online help involved putting reference material online for main-frame users. For the past three years, I have been responsible for the online help for PowerBuilder, a graphical PC-based client/server application development environment.
    Online Reading and Offline Tradition: Adapting Online Help Facilities to Offline Reading Strategies BIBAPDF 175-182
      Alfons Maes; Sandra Goutier; Erik-Jan van der Linden
    This paper describes two experiments which investigate the way in which novice, occasional users use help facilities in looking up information in hypertext applications. The general idea behind the experiments is that the use of online documents is influenced by offline reading strategies, and that hence online help facilities should be in accordance with the offline tradition. More specifically, it is shown that the offline users' preference for using books by gaining insight into their global structure is reflected in the search behavior of novice users of online databases. The experimental results show a gap between the way in which novice users access relevant information in online databases and the way in which help facilities allow users to access relevant information, e.g. by means of sophisticated hypertext devices. The results support the assumption that the way in which hypertext facilities encourage people to use non-hierarchical means of searching and linking information does not fit in with the way people make mental representations of databases or knowledge domains.
    Down-Sizing in DOS: Multi-Media as Inexpensive, Omnipresent and User-Based BIBAPDF 183-190
      Paul Beam
    MENU is a DOS-based set of C programs which permit an instructor to create interactive computer-aided learning modules on any subject. Less than a megabyte in size, the controlling program permits a teacher with no formal computer training to prepare and modify all elements of the module -- topics, subject matter, sequencing and the availability of computer tools and devices. The program displays all materials immediately and permits spontaneous and continuous modification in creation mode where lessons can be linked to each other in larger units, run separately and linked to any executable, batch or graphics files to permit easy integration of other CAL and computer facilities. Users work within, and can be tested on, each MENU lesson and students can become participants in lesson creation and the preparation processes and of any text files within them. A "definition" option permits instructors to expand on and enrich terms within a file or globally throughout the lesson and to link ideas throughout the module.
       MENU is designed to run on very basic systems to support individuals in the preparation and learning of subject matter and to be integrated into large networks, with tutorial and mail facilities, for classes and students working on group projects. Hyperlinks permit connections among all levels of information and across topics. Help facilities are context-specific and can be created or modified by instructors at each point in the module. The creation elements include display screens, an ascii editor for both lesson creation and as the medium through which instructors and users prepare information within the lessons. Instructors can adapt, modify and expand existing materials and link these to larger modules and all movement within the lesson is accomplished by the cursor, ESC and Enter keys or a mouse. The .dat file within the MENU program permits instructors to make direct connections to display files as their familiarity with the creation process increases.
       MENU permits instructors to create materials specific to their needs and teaching style, to integrate existing lessons, tools and subject matter into modules relevant to their courses and to quickly incorporate students in preparation of both subject matter and the structuring of lessons for their own projects and to prepare materials for other classes.
    Prototyping: Tools and Techniques: Improving Software and Documentation Quality through Rapid Prototyping BIBAPDF 191-199
      Michael Thompson; Nina Wishbow
    User interfaces are communications media. Technical communicators are communications experts. It makes sense to use the talents of technical communicators in the development of user interfaces. This paper advocates the use of rapid prototyping, using simple media and methods, as a vehicle for allowing technical communicators to become an integral part of the development team.
    Technical Writers and the Business of Writing Design Documents for Complex, Reactive Systems BIBAPDF 201-210
      Don Cameron
    Technical writers can be effective members of the design team, assisting in the documentation of complex, reactive systems as they are being designed. This documentation will describe the internal structure and behaviour of the system from a designer's perspective. To keep such a description complete, accurate, and up-to-date, writers require a highly automated documentation process. This paper discusses the human and technical factors that contribute to successfully providing this type of writing service to the design community.
    Documenting Software Systems with Views BIBAKPDF 211-219
      Scott R. Tilley; Hausi A. Muller; Mehmet A. Orgun
    Software professionals rely on internal documentation as an aid in understanding programs. Unfortunately, the documentation for most programs is usually out-of-date and cannot be trusted. Without it, the only reliable and objective information is the source code itself. Personnel must spend an inordinate amount of time exploring the system by looking at low-level source code to gain an understanding of its functionality. One way of producing accurate documentation for an existing software system is through reverse engineering. This paper outlines a reverse engineering methodology for building subsystem structures out of software building blocks, and describes how documenting a software system with views created by this process can produce numerous benefits. It addresses primarily the needs of the software engineer and technical manager as document users.
    Keywords: Software documentation, Reverse engineering, Software maintenance
    To Link or Not to Link: An Empirical Comparison of Hypertext Linking Strategies BIBAPDF 221-231
      Craig Boyle; Swee Hor Teh
    Little is known about Hypertext writing style. This study examines the effects of link quantity and quality on usability. Our chosen domain is technical documentation which has a very regular writing style and organization. We compare two Hypertext Networks: one network has intuitively created links and the other is an algorithmic enhancement of it. The enhanced network has the same number of destination links, but more total link-anchors.
       Twelve subjects (six for each system) were asked to answer a set of eleven questions by navigating through the networks. We were interested in investigating three issues: efficiency (how many nodes need to be visited), speed (how much time is required) and accuracy (what is the error rate).
       Results showed that the lightly linked network required users to visit significantly more nodes to answer a question than the heavily linked equivalent. Heavy linking enabled users to find the answers to questions more quickly, but not significantly so. There was little difference in the error rate.
    Helping Users Navigate in Multimedia Documents: The Affective Domain BIBAPDF 233-236
      Marcia Peoples Halio
    As more and more users have access to sophisticated multimedia systems, some may get lost in the labyrinths. For even as the maze of hypertext, animation, links to databases, illustrations, and video sequences widens and expands, so too do users change and grow, both in their knowledge of the material they seek to understand and in their development as individuals adjusting to a larger world than they have known before. Sensing the need for navigational aids, many hypertext and multimedia designers have provided cognitive tools such as bookmarks, compasses, and filters or geographical browsers that supply a global or zoom lens map. But less attention has been paid to users' affective needs. In this paper I advocate some navigational tools to help users handle stress from sensory or cognitive overload-particularly international students, returning adult students, mid-life career shifters, women, minorities, or students struggling to succeed in the academic arena.
    Low-Cost Audio/Visual Presentation Enabler BIBAPDF 237-243
      Robert A. Pascoe
    Multimedia, or the addition of audio, motion video, and animation data types to the text, image, and graphics capabilities of a computer, provides enormous advances in presentation of information to the computer user. However, cost and coexistence factors have prevent a broad acceptance and use of multimedia technologies in large multi-system enterprise-wide computer environments.
       This paper introduces a notion of a low-cost audio-visual information delivery mechanism as a base for multimedia in these environments. This paper covers the usage of multimedia in an enterprise environment, the problems of introducing multimedia into an already diverse enterprise computing environment, the general, low-cost audio-visual delivery mechanism, and the advantages of this low-cost delivery mechanism.
    Variable Degrees of Multimedia Implementation and Their Impact on Network Elements BIBAPDF 245-252
      Richard Bence; Jody Fraser; Laura Linser
    In developing an integrated document library for a NeXT LAN, we have experimented with multimedia applications and their implementation. In this paper we present results of this work including: issues of compression of different data types (e.g., voice, video, compound documents); demands placed on network bandwidth by multimedia documents in real-time, interactive use; processing loads generated by multimedia interactive use and impacts on perceived system performance; compound document and dynamically linked compound document file systems and their intra and inter-network transport; and real-time multimedia presentation durations determined by constraints of processing/storage requirements.
       Our experiments consisted of systematic measurements of multimedia specific packets on the 10mb ethernet bandwidth and ethernet to ethernet via routers and FDDI backbone. In addition, we collected data on processor utilization by specific tasks of the multimedia applications and correlated these with traffic measurements.
       We empirically studied the impact on network bandwidth of multimedia implementations to evaluate the need for intra-network compression and the trade-offs between transmission times and processing requirements for dual-end compression/decompression approaches.
       From this work we, developed guidelines and specific requirements for the NeXT platforms used in our testing with respect to memory, magnetic and optical media, display technologies and other factors such as dual end compression. We also developed a model which allows us to predict with some accuracy expected network loads, the processing demands placed on workstations and servers by multimedia implementations of different descriptions, and means of enhancing the performance of the system to accommodate these demands.
       These results provide a means of determining the hardware and software performance and configuration requirements of a specific type of multimedia implementation and, therefore, of the applicability or feasibility of multimedia technology for a particular application.
       As an example, library tutorial applications are high-level, focused on the look and feel of the library system, and make use of multimedia tools to convey these characteristics without placing large demands on the workstation processor server processor, or bandwidth. On-line help for the library system is more detailed, solution-oriented, keyed to components of the application suite and conventional in approach except for the addition of hypertext features and limited graphics. The trend towards inclusion of multimedia documents in growing numbers and increased complexity within the library system will affect it significantly without improvements in performance and management of resources.
    The Right Tool for the Job: A Quest for the Perfect Authoring Package BIBAPDF 253-258
      Jeffrey N. Agnew; George A. Palmer
    No single authoring tool is ideal for online documentation because none was designed specifically for it. Every tool commercially available was intended for a different audience. Some authoring packages evolved from computer-based training, others from multimedia and graphics. If you are contemplating developing online documentation, you must make some difficult choices selecting an authoring tool. The wrong decision could haunt you for years and cost you both money and customers.
       This paper compares Authorware and MacroMind Director. the two most popular authoring tools, and provides concrete information about hardware, cost, the learning curve, file translation, and Macintosh versus PC platform differences.
       In 1991 our Northern Telecom documentation team produced and delivered our first two online Northern Telecom Publications (NTPs). Called FIND (For Interactive Network Documentation), these manuals documented the complex working of telecommunications features across a network of switches. These first two FIND NTPs were developed using Macromedia's MacroMind Director. For subsequent projects we used Authorware Professional. These two packages comprise a large portion of the multimedia authoring market. Our experiences using both of these tools are the subject of this paper.
    The Use of Icons to Aid User Orientation in Windows Help Files BIBAPDF 259-264
      Rebecca C. Hall
    Documentation can no longer be defined solely as a manual that accompanies a product. Documentation now refers to a set of one or more documents. Increasingly, this includes on-line documentation in addition to traditional paper documents.
       On-line documentation has several advantages over paper documentation, including a shorter production period which increases the likelihood that the content will be accurate. Another advantage is the opportunity to provide the documentation as hypertext. The use of hypertext, when properly implemented, can lead the user directly to information related to the question or problem at hand [1, P. 301].
       A problem with hypertext is the possibility of disorientation [2]. Once "inside" a hypertext document there are no automatic landmarks. A manual has a front cover and a back cover, and items are arranged linearly in-between. A hypertext document does not inherently have such a structure, making it easy to get lost.
       This paper describes one approach to decreasing user disorientation as they use a hypertext On-Line Help System. It is especially important to use orientation aids when a help file can be accessed in a context sensitive manner from an application.
    Applying Object-Oriented Concepts to Documentation BIBAPDF 265-271
      Sky Matthews; Carl Grove
    The advent of hypertext and multimedia has opened up tremendous opportunities for online documentation. Traditional methods of document design often prove inadequate for coping with the complexity of large online documentation projects. We propose that the principles of object-oriented design, originally developed to address software complexity, can also be applied to documentation. The paper introduces the concepts of object-oriented design and their applicability to documentation, and suggests techniques for developing object-oriented documentation.
    The Rhetoric of an Online Document Retrieval System BIBAPDF 273-280
      Carol M. L. Lee
    The purpose of this paper is to establish a working definition of the term rhetoric, and to explore four tools that can be used to understand and analyze the rhetoric of online systems. It is meant to persuade designers and writers of online systems that all information presented online is rhetorical, and as such its impact is better managed than ignored.
       Working definition: Rhetoric means creating or using an "orientation to action" to persuade someone to act in a certain way.
       Tools: The rhetoric of the following are addressed:
  • - graphics
  • - discourse communities
  • - readership
  • - story emplotment
  • Informal Usability Testing: A Strategy for User Involvement BIBAPDF 281-288
      Kathy Haramundanis
    Three media, documentation, user interfaces, and online materials were subjected to informal usability testing to improve their use and content. We collected information by questionnaire on what tests had been run and what impact the testing had.
       The tests almost invariably caused changes to be made in documents, software, or information. This paper summarizes the results of the questionnaire, gives examples before and after testing, and provides information on follow-up testing results.
    Prospects for Active Help in OnLine Documentation BIBAPDF 289-296
      Tom Carey; Blair Nonnecke; John Mitterer
    We report results from an empirical study of how people access online technical documentation. The results are used to evaluate the concept of an active help system as an aid to improved access. The study showed that the differences amongst users limit the potential for active help, and that help in making tactical choices amongst access methods offers more promise for improved user access.
    Towards a Canonical Specification of Document Structures BIBPDF 297-307
      Michael G. Hinchey; Tony Cahill
    Developing a Hypertext Productivity Tool from a Hardcopy Programmer's Reference BIBAPDF 309-312
      Victoria A. Hailey; Dov Lungu; Sheila Thompson
    In documenting a software product in the IBM Canada Development Laboratory, we moved a massive amount of reference information from hardcopy to online using hypertext links and other features available on a Graphical User Interface (GUI). Creating documentation for the new medium proved to be a process of gradual discovery involving not only technical communicators, but also software developers and users. The result was a hypertext that added functionality to the original documentation and turned this documentation into a powerful productivity tool for programmers.
    Beyond Hypertext: Knowledge Management for Technical Documentation BIBAPDF 313-321
      Timothy C. Lethbridge; Doug Skuce
    We describe the use of our knowledge management system, CODE2, as an aid to documenters of a complex software system called Telos. CODE2 was first used by the designers of Telos to clarify their design concepts and terminology. CODE2 served the following purposes: 1) to acquire the knowledge about the system; 2) to check the terminology in natural language documents; 3) as an on-line knowledge resource for documenters and end-users, and 4) to automatically generate parts of the printed documentation. We describe some features that make CODE particularly useful to documenters: its sophisticated user interface, its ability to handle both formal and informal knowledge, and its support for language. We also describe our vision for the future of such knowledge-based technology.
    Online with a Mainframe: Moving the Mountain to the Microcomputer BIBAPDF 323-327
      Julie S. McDuffee
    Much has been said in technical communication circles lately about the power of online documentation and the destruction of the paper world as we know it. Most of the talk centers around hypertext, or the creation of interactive help systems for personal computers. In fact, as the size of the computer continues to shrink, the buzz about the potential power of new forms of documentation seems to increase exponentially. More sophisticated users demand immediate access to information. Multi-media documents create the excitement of a new toy at Christmas; and, just like a Baby Alive, these documents move, talk and keep us entertained for hours. When Christmas is past, however, most of us do not spend our day-to-day lives working with new toys. We must, then, learn to take the tools we use everyday and come up with new solutions for online documentation.