ANDRIAMANANTSOA Ornella, BENZAAMA Loubna, LEONARD Lucie, RESPLENDINO Emmanuelle
Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7, July 2018
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?
Sara Chaoui, Margaux Chatelain, Julie Dezalay and Justine Gaillard
Technical documentation can be written and delivered in two ways: it can be structured and will follow an XML information model; or it can be unstructured and cannot be validated against a model. Nowadays, companies tend to migrate their documentation from unstructured to structured content. This article focuses on the stakes of moving from unstructured to structured content and explains the key aspects of this process. First, we will identify the reasons of the migration by studying different approaches in several companies. Secondly, the results and/or expected benefits of the migration will be discussed. Interviews of technical writers, documentation managers, and information architects will help us define what the advantages of structured documentation are. We will focus on the added value for the technical writer and for the documentation reader. Moreover, we will try to understand what the company gains from the migration. To conclude, we will draw five guidelines for a successful migration. Moving from unstructured to structured content is a challenging process and the best based on experience and know-how.