How shifting to a more modern documentation process helps meet user needs

ANDRIAMANANTSOA Ornella, BENZAAMA Loubna, LEONARD Lucie, RESPLENDINO Emmanuelle

Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7, July 2018

Abstract

Digitalization and technological innovations are exerting considerable impact today on technical documentation. In addition, we are seeing more and more collaboration between technical writers and software developers, which naturally is leading to a synchronous code and documentation production evolution.
The research offered herein is based on literature, key articles, survey reports, interviews with documentation and product managers from medium to large French software companies, and analysis of various documentation production process. The results highlight the importance given to documentation and its scope towards users.
To meet the needs of the industry, historical formats such as wikis and PDFs are changing to web-based and embedded formats, which are more accessible, visual, and user-centric. This change not only affects outputs, but also production processes through the merging the product code and documentation delivery. Nonetheless, such innovation is costly and bears limits. Are such technological exploits as smart assistants and virtual reality going to perform well enough to meet users’ demands and needs in terms of documentation?

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Hardware or software products: What impact on technical documentation?

Agnès Carchereux, Marion Groix, Amandine Kempf, Harriet Logan, Camille Pépin

July 2015

Abstract

As apprentices in the software, hardware and embedded systems industries, we wondered whether the type of product had an impact on documentation. After collecting the existing literature on the subject, we sent a questionnaire to technical writers with hands-on experience in order to learn more about their methods and skills. Their answers on the subject underlined that having direct access to the product is essential, but that the methods and skills are different depending on the type of product documented. Indeed, for security reasons, hardware industry documents contain more legal requirements than software documents and have a different documentation structure. The type of deliverables and whether the product is published online or in hardcopy depend on how the product is used on site. Terminology and syntax, the illustration workload, and project management methods are also discussed in this article.

Read the full article (PDF): Hardware or software products: What impact on technical documentation?