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DOC Tables of Contents: 888990919293949596979899000102030405060708

ACM 16th International Conference on Systems Documentation

Fullname:16th International Conference on Systems Documentation
Note:Scaling the Heights: The Future of Information Technology
Location:Quebec City, Canada
Dates:1998-Sep-23 to 1998-Sep-26
Standard No:ISBN 1-58113-004-X; ACM Order Number 613980; ACM DL: Table of Contents hcibib: DOC98
  1. Knowledge Management
  2. Training and Documentation
  3. Print vs Online Documentation
  4. Getting Feedback on your Web Site
  5. Document Design Concepts
  6. Help System Design Concepts
  7. Web Navigation
  8. Meeting Beginning and Advanced Users Needs
  9. Document Repositories and Retrieval
  10. Working with XML
  11. Year 2000
  12. Delivering Information for a World Audience
  13. Usability Testing Methods
  14. Online Help in a Distributed Environment
  15. Technical Communications Departments
  16. Redesigning for the Web
  17. Document Design and Production
  18. Professional Education
  19. Techniques for Web Design

Knowledge Management

The Evolution of Knowledge Management within NCR Corporation BIBAPDF 1-4
  Maria Babilon
As information is requested and accessed more and more frequently, we search for better/quicker ways to share knowledge; particularly within the corporate Information Technology environment. One new initiative which is beginning to receive a lot of attention at NCR Corporation is Knowledge Management. This paper will examine Knowledge Management as an internal business process for information management, specifically for capturing best practices within the Information Technology division, from a process improvement approach. This paper is geared toward technical communicators with little or no experience in Knowledge Management as a business process.
Documentation Meets a Knowledge Base: Blurring the Distinction Between Writing and Consulting (A Case Study) BIBAKPDF 5-13
  Anne L. Jackson; Gregory Lyon; Janet Eaton
A limited budget and increasing support costs have led the University of Michigan Information Technology Division to explore new ways of providing computer support. We are supplementing one-on-one user assistance with a knowledge base -- an online trouble-shooting tool. The knowledge base tool from ServiceSoft Corporation includes an optional authoring system for creating customized knowledge. This paper records our start-up and early implementation struggles and offers recommendations to those considering writing for a knowledge base.
Keywords: Information technology division, ITD, ITD computing knowledgebase, Knowledge base, Online, Online help, World Wide Web, University of Michigan, U-M, Consulting, Documentation, Help desk, Case-based reasoning, CBR, Decision tree, ServiceSoft Corporation
Building a Home-Grown Knowledge Base: Don't Wait for the Resources -- Build a Prototype BIBAPDF 14-17
  Susan Jones; Carol Wood
In this presentation, we will discuss why and how we came to build a knowledge base for the Computing Help Desk at MIT. We discuss MIT's re-engineering effort and its impact on the various Help Desk groups who were brought together as a single team; how this centralizing of Help Desk services created a new requirement of getting useful, just-in-time knowledge to student consultants, and professional staff; and how that requirement helped us approach another goal of our re-engineered processes -- helping our customers to help themselves. We then describe the tool we created and how we are using it.

Training and Documentation

Combining Training and Customer Documentation into Modular, Reusable Information BIBAKPDF 18-22
  Mildred E. McGuire; Lee Anne Center; Gregory D. Henderson; Lori Ely; James M. Moran
Until recently, many large companies developed two sets of documentation for each product -- one set was delivered with the product, and the other set was used for customer training. In this panel presentation, we will discuss our participation in a new process, called InfoWare, that we are adopting at Lucent Technologies to produce task-oriented, modular and reusable components for customer documentation and for training materials for new products.
   These reusable components will facilitate our future plans to store the modules in a single-source asset repository that will allow us to produce on-line and paper documentation as well as training that can be tailored to each customer's requirements.
Keywords: Modular, Components, Single-source, Reusable, InfoWare, Training

Print vs Online Documentation

Customers' Use of Documentation: The Enduring Legacy of Print BIBAPDF 23-28
  Karl L. Smart; Kristen Bell DeTienne
Because of newly developed technologies and the escalating cost of printing, more organizations are delivering documentation through online mediums. This trend has serious implications for users of legacy documents (i.e., printed documentation). This paper reports the results of two studies that assessed customers' use of documentation. The studies found that printed documentation remains an important source of information and support for some users -- that despite an increased amount of documentation delivered in online mediums, printed documentation continues to be significantly valued and used by customers with particular learning strategies and by customers in retrieving certain types of information. The paper concludes by discussing implications for organizations whose products require documentation and for technical communicators who produce it.
Are Electrons Better than Papyrus (Or Can Adobe Acrobat Reader Files Replace Hardcopy?) BIBAKPDF 29-37
  Harold Henke
In this paper, I describe the results of a usability test and a usability survey conducted by the IBM Printing Systems Company to determine the effectiveness of softcopy documentation. The usability test was conducted to determine if users could perform tasks using a softcopy User's Guide from a CD-ROM. The usability survey measured satisfaction of Customer Engineers using a softcopy Service Guide from a CD-ROM.
   The usability test showed that users were able to complete all tasks using a softcopy User's Guide and their satisfaction levels were between satisfied to neutral. The usability survey showed that Customer Engineers were satisfied using a softcopy Service Guide.
   Two interesting points from the usability test and usability survey were:
  • 1. Customer Engineers and users both used the table of contents and index as
        their primary mechanism for navigating the softcopy document.
  • 2. Customer Engineers and users who had experience using a Web Browser were
        more satisfied with softcopy documentation.
    Keywords: Acrobat Reader, Electronic books, Electronic text, Hardcopy documentation, Hypermedia, Online documentation, Portable data format, Softcopy documentation, Technical documentation, Usability, Viewing technology
  • Getting Feedback on your Web Site

    Designing and Developing Surveys on WWW Sites BIBAPDF 38-42
      Susan Feinberg; Peter Y. Johnson
    This paper presents a review of recent WWW surveys, recommends guidelines for the preparation of a customer satisfaction survey, and describes new directions for surveys and technical considerations for the retrieval and storage of survey responses. The review of the literature has been conducted in several ways: database searches, reviews of recent surveys, and browsing the web.
       The types of surveys being conducted on the internet fall into three categories: surveys that determine who is using the WWW, surveys that determine customer satisfaction with the product or service, and the newest type of survey that collects research data. To the survey guidelines described by GVU, we add five guidelines for designing web customer satisfaction surveys based on reviews of recent surveys and browsing the web: (1) Begin with a clear mission statement. (2) Classify current users of the site. (3) Report the results online. (4) Limit the length of the questionnaire to no more than 25 multiple-part questions. (5) Limit big graphics. For research surveys the design and data collection become more complex and both need usability testing in the prototype stage.
    Using Web Server Logs to Improve Site Design BIBAPDF 43-50
      M. Carl Drott
    Many web page designers may be unaware that web servers record transaction information each time they send a file to a browser. Others may know that a server log exists but they may see it only as a source of general statistical information such as site use distributed over time or counts of the number of times that each page was served. This paper describes how server logs can be used to give designers a much more detailed view of how users are accessing their site. Server logs can be used to monitor use patterns and employ them to improve the design and functionality of the web site. Web log data has been used to analyze and redesign a wide range of web-based material, including: online tutorials, databases, fact sheets, and reference material.

    Document Design Concepts

    Documentation Integrity for Safety-Critical Applications: The COHERE Project BIBAKPDF 51-57
      David G. Novick; Joel Juillet
    A key aspect of the COHERE project involves building an authoring system for documentation for safety-critical systems. Following a set of documentation integrity maxims, the project developed two generations of prototype interfaces designed to assure consistency of information during production and revision of manuals.
    Keywords: Authoring interface, Documentation integrity, Consistency
    Designing Usable Lists BIBAPDF 58-62
      Thomas Moran
    Creating lists is an effective method to organize and present complex technical information. This paper presents a summary of methods that writers and designers can use to make their lists more usable. Attention is given to a list's visual impact, the context within which it is to be used, its interactive features, and its grammatical structure.

    Help System Design Concepts

    Who Exactly is Trying to Help Us? The Ethos of Help Systems in Popular Computer Applications BIBAPDF 63-69
      Neil Randall; Isabel Pederson
    This paper examines the ethos of some of these help systems, drawing primarily on Kenneth Burke's rhetorical theories, and the metaphoric basis of the help concepts within this system, drawing primarily on Mark Johnson's cognitive metaphor theories. By "ethos" of a system, we mean the character, the image, and the presence of human-like or human-appealing attributes within the system. The concept of Help itself bears an ethos of expertise (it can assist us with our difficulties), but older help systems carried an ethos of unfriendliness as well (if you didn't ask the right question, you couldn't get an answer). Today's help systems, we argue, attempt to provide us with increased and more usable access to information about the application we are using and the task we are trying to perform. The designers of these help systems insist that this access be provided through an ethos that approaches that of the human teacher, the expert who can guide, and they present this ethos in metaphoric fashion. The question, however, is whether or not this is the best possible approach to problem-solving for users, and we will focus our analysis around this essential question.
    Novel Help for On-Line Help BIBAPDF 70-79
      Cecile Paris; Nadine Ozkan; Flor Bonifacio
    This paper presents Isolde, an authoring tool for technical writers which automates the production of procedural on-line help in hypertext form. We show that the design of Isolde emerged from technological advances and fits into current trends in the technical writing community. The domains which Isolde's design draws upon are natural language generation (NLG), human computer interaction (HCI) and software engineering (SE). Specific trends in technical writing that Isolde addresses are (1) providing support for determining the structure and content of the text; (2) promoting information re-use through the formalisation of the knowledge present in on-line help text; and (3) allowing writers to play a greater role early in the software development process. We also explore Isolde's scope of use and its integration into and influence on the technical writer's work processes.

    Web Navigation

    Kiosk-Based User Testing of Online Books BIBAKPDF 80-86
      Jean Scholtz; Sharon Laskowski
    Our work is in developing rapid, remote, and automated tools and techniques for usability evaluations of web sites. We have completed case studies for information access web sites and developed several software tools and some techniques to facilitate evaluations for this type of site. In this paper, we describe a case study to obtain design information for an online book. We intend to develop tools to facilitate this type of user testing if we conclude that this is an effective way to obtain information.
    Keywords: Usability testing, Kiosk-based testing, Online books, Web-based documentation, Navigation
    A Comparison of Two Current E-Commerce Sites BIBAKPDF 87-92
      Roger Tilson; Jianming Dong; Shirley Martin; Eric Kieke
    The IBM Ease of Use Group asked sixteen participants to compare two e-commerce web sites that sold designer clothing and two that sold computer products. The primary goal of the study was to pinpoint factors or issues affecting the usability of e-commerce sites that need further research.
       The sites that participants used were selected because they had received good reviews in the press. One surprising finding from this study, however, was that fourteen out of sixteen participants preferred Clothing Site B to Clothing Site A. This paper discusses the factors that influenced participants' preferences. Specifically, Site B provided participants with easy-to-use product lists, more obviousness for order links, more feedback on items in the shopping cart, and more navigation control after adding an item to the shopping list.
    Keywords: E-commerce, Web site design

    Meeting Beginning and Advanced Users Needs

    Technical Documents Designed to Fit the Beginner: A Recursive Process BIBAPDF 93-97
      Monica Younger
    Beginning users come from various backgrounds and have different needs for documentation. At the University of Colorado at Denver, the non-traditional students are targeted for distance learning opportunities because of their need to balance career obligations with schoolwork, but these students do not always have the computing skills that they need to use the technology used to deliver the coursework.
       As technical support personnel, we keep the computers running and keep the users up to speed on how to use the technology. Sometimes, the best way to create a good document is to begin with user feedback, and continue to hone the content as your analysis of the user and the user's circumstances develops. Offered here are strategies for developing documentation in real-time.
    A Wizard for Wizards: Decision Support for the New or Despairing User BIBAKPDF 98-102
      Michael Priestley
    In this paper, I describe a technique for layering information to provide new users with a structured introduction to a product and its information. This technique breaks out a task flow into explicit instructions and decision points, and requires the reader to navigate topics sequentially.
    Keywords: Guide Me, Taskflow, New user documentation, Layered help
    The Zen of Minimalism: Designing a Top-of-Class Manual for Beginners and Advanced Users BIBAPDF 103-112
      Carl Stieren
    Can using minimalist documentation improve accuracy and learning speed for beginners as well as for advanced users? I tested this question using Microsoft Access for Windows 95 and three different third-party manuals explaining this product. Then I set up three main tasks for the user in a usability test. For each task, I provided the task description in blue type, and then copied the appropriate documentation in black. Documentation for each of the three tasks was reprinted from a different book. The books were Access for Windows 95 for Dummies, Mastering Microsoft Access for Windows 95, Third Edition, and Microsoft Access for Windows 95 Step by Step. In the first round of tests (Test 1), advanced users were fastest with the minimalist book Microsoft Access for Windows 95 Step by Step. The beginners were fastest with the book that came second on the minimalism scale, Mastering Microsoft Access. Then I conducted a second round of tests (Test 2) with changes to the documentation. I added three missing chunks of descriptive material and wrote complete sets of procedure steps for three difficult subtasks. After these changes, beginners and advanced users completed the tasks in two-thirds the time. Now the beginners and advanced users performed best with the minimalist book (Step by Step), and the books in second and third place for both groups were the same.

    Document Repositories and Retrieval

    Electronic Colloquia: Idea and Practice BIBAKPDF 113-119
      Jochen Bern; Christoph Meinel; Harald Sack
    The scientific community, especially the more computer related fields of science like computer science and mathematics, have not only been doing research in information technology, they have simultaneously begun to exploit its advantages for their own purposes. However, scientific publishing is different from other areas where information technology has been applied in that it requires publications to be not only fast, but also comparable to traditional media in terms of quality control and long-term availability. Peer reviewing and paper-based publishing are still the methods of choice to achieve the latter goals, restricting electronic means to more or less "inofficial" communications.
       Within the field of scientific communication, we find a number of types of communication with slightly different goal and character: From scientific journals with their extensive and, consequently, slow reviewing mechanisms over conference papers to -- nowadays usually electronic -- forms of publication by the author. On the other hand, and in spite of the delay incurred, peer review is advantageous: The remaining publications are reasonably filtered for quality, making the series, resp. conference proceedings, worthwhile to read.
       The department for computer science at the University of Trier (Treves), Germany, is researching and implementing solutions in the area of information technology. In this paper, we will present two of our three main projects.
       Meanwhile, our university has created the Center for Scientific Electronic Publishing (WEP) [6], which promotes the exchange of ideas on information technology and its applications between departments within the university.
       The projects presented in this paper are the Electronic Colloquium on Computational Complexity (ECCC) [7] and the STACS Electronic Submission Service [15]. For both, we will introduce the specific situations they were developed for (Sections 2.1 and 3.1), present the specific problems of interest and the chosen solutions (Sections 2.3 and 3.2), and conclude with a report of current status and use (Sections 2.4 and 3.3). Finally, we will outline our view of the future both for the field as a whole and for the specific projects (Section 4).
    Keywords: Information technology, Electronic journals, Electronic colloquia, Electronic submission to conferences, Electronic Colloquium on Computational Complexity (ECCC), Symposium on Theoretical Aspects in Computer Science (STACS)
    ESSQL: An Enhanced Semi-Structured Query Language for Composite Document Retrievals BIBAPDF 120-126
      Rei-Jo Yamashita; Tetsuro Ito; Hsiu-Hsen Yao
    Composite documents, with their semi-structures, become an active research topics recently. A document is called composite document if related data are deposited with various formats in one or different files. A document is named semi-structured if it consists of markup elements (i.e., document pieces), the attributes of these elements, hyperlinks among elements, and hierarchy definition for sub-elements. Most of the research interests of semi-structured data now focus on html-files in WWW environment. We claim, in this paper, that html-files are just (web-)server-site documents; in the other hand, office documents generated by office automation packages in PC, such as spreadsheets, words, or presentation software files, are client-site semi-structured data as long as those semi-structures are embedded into office documents.
       Some research on semi-structured query language (SSQL) for composite document is proposed in [1], which, however, is designed on SGML-documents. The integrated query paths in SSQL consist of six different paths, i.e., get-by-name, get-by-attribute, get-by-browsing, get-by-retrievals, get-by-hierarchy., and get-by-navigation. These query paths are integrated as three phases: the set-oriented phase, the user-oriented phase, and the element-oriented phase. We modify the research in [1] and provide a weak type query language named ESSQL for office documents retrievals, in which semi-structures are added after documents exist already.

    Working with XML

    Managing Software Design Documents over the Internet with XML BIBAKPDF 127-136
      Junichi Suzuki; Yoshikazu Yamamoto
    It is hard to manage the software design documents within a distributed development team. The issues include the format, distribution and evolution of data. This paper mainly focuses on the issues of the format and distribution, and addresses how we can manage the software design documents for the distributed software development in the standard based way.
       In the software engineering community, Unified Modeling Language (UML) has been widely accepted as an object-oriented software analysis/design methodology, since it provides most of the concepts and notations that are essential for documenting Object oriented models. UML, however, does not have an explicit format for interchanging its models intentionally. This paper addresses this lack and proposes UXF (UML eXchange Format), which is an exchange format for UML models, based on XML (Extensible Markup Language). It is a format powerful enough to express, publish, access and exchange UML models and a natural extension from the existing Internet environment. It serves as a communication vehicle for developers, and as a well-structured data format for development tools.
       We demonstrate some proof-of-concept applications that show the merits of UXF. We are especially interested in a distributed model management system that manages the software design documents over the Internet with UXF. This system leverages the team development, reuse of design documents and tool interoperability by publishing a set of CORBA interfaces. Our work shows an important step in sharing and exchanging software design documents, and indicates the future direction of the interoperable software development tools.
    Keywords: Software model interchange, CASE data interchange, UML, XML
    OpenTag: XML in the Localization Industry BIBAPDF 137-142
      William Burns; Walter Smith
    Much of the electronic publication community is buzzing with discussion about Extensible Markup Language (XML). For those initiates of Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), XML holds much promise. Others who have developed web-sites and web-based documentation in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) may not fully understand just how XML will impact how they develop content for the World Wide Web. However, the promise of XML goes far beyond content development for web pages and could make many of the goals for SGML attainable.
       XML is a subset of SGML designed specifically to support generalized markup on the World Wide Web. It provides much of the flexibility of SGML (since it is valid SGML) without the burden that some of the more complex features of SGML could add. Like SGML, XML aims to identify the structure of its content rather than to provide formatting instructions to an application, as presentational markups do. A presentational markup defines how a group of words used as a heading looks, while XML (and SGML) describe the relationship of that group of words called a heading to other parts of a document, such as a body paragraph, list item, or citation. Where a presentational markup indicates to an application how a heading should look, XML tells an XML-intelligent application what can and cannot precede or follow a heading, if a valid instance, or at least can enforce correct nesting in the markup, if well-formed (Light, 1997).
       Unlike HTML, XML is not a static tag set; it is a metalanguage for describing the syntax and semantics of tag sets. As such, it can be used to create different tag sets for specific purposes, including markup for data interchange. This latter capability is what makes XML of value to creators of localization tools. Two specifications are currently in development in the localization industry: OpenTag and TMX. Each specification is XML-compliant, but each performs unique functions that are useful for data manipulation and interchange.

    Year 2000

    Documenting a Year 2000 Testing Project BIBAPDF 143-152
      Mike Szczepanik
    Technical writing plays a crucial role in Year 2000 (Y2K) software testing projects. In this paper, I relate my experiences as a technical writer assigned to perform software testing on a Y2K project at the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, focusing on the technical writing demands. I describe the types of documents I was required to create, the essential characteristics of those documents, and the dual purposes Y2K testing documentation serves. I consider two approaches to creating documentation for a software design project and the implications for managers hiring testers for Y2K projects. Based on my own background, I describe the qualifications of a technical writer who might enjoy and succeed at software testing. And I conclude with the lessons I learned from this project and am applying to my current Y2K software testing project.
    Writing for the Year 2000 BIBAKPDF 153-157
      Jim Ramsay
    In this paper, I describe a two-day training course in written communication for COBOL programmers on a year 2000 compliance project.
    Keywords: Training course, Written communication, Year 2000, Programmers

    Delivering Information for a World Audience

    Nudging a Global Glossary to the New Millennium BIBAKPDF 158-163
      Stephanie Brucker; P. J. Schemenaur
    Just what is a global glossary?
       In its narrowest sense, global glossary could mean a compilation of terms originated among the multiple geographic locations of a particular organization. To broaden the scope a bit, that global glossary could become a compendium of smaller glossaries created by publications organizations and other text-generating bodies within a multinational corporation. Finally, this now relatively vast glossary could become truly global through distribution on the World Wide Web, ultimately to an international audience.
       This paper and presentation show how representatives of different product groups at Sun Microsystems settled on a delivery mechanism for their terminology, using Adept Editor, FrameMaker with SGML, and HTML as the source text. The paper also explains how the Sun Global Glossary team won acceptance of the delivery mechanism by management, writers, and customers after grappling with budgets and documentation, and considering the advice of experts.
       Finally, this paper shows the final product and describes how the glossary team arrived at its new content and presentation form.
    Keywords: Glossary, Online help, SGML, Localization, Evolving terminology
    Meeting the Needs (and Preferences) of a Diverse World Wide Web Audience BIBAKPDF 164-172
      Debbie Hysell
    OCLC's experience in designing and redesigning its Web sites to meet audience needs is typical of many organizations with small to medium sites. Customizing Web content and personalizing the user's Web site experience require an integrated set of document management and personalization tools.
    Keywords: Web personalization, Web customization, Web site management, OCLC

    Usability Testing Methods

    Optimal Amount of Time for Obtaining Accurate Usability-Test Results BIBAKPDF 173-179
      Susan Harrison; Phillipa Mancey
    This project involves the investigation of the optimal amount of time for obtaining accurate usability-test results. Users from a pool of 300 undergraduate subjects were asked to contrast the design of two different interfaces used in the navigation of web pages for acquiring information from within an online manual. The study focused on varying the elapsed time before gathering a user's reaction to the designs. Each third of the subjects received preference and design questionnaires after either one, two, or four consecutive 7-minute sessions with a design. Subjects alternated designs after each questioning session. Subject's evaluation of a design seemed to stabilize after working 14 minutes with a design.
    Keywords: User-centered design, Usability testing, Online documentation
    Evaluating On-Line and Off-Line Searching Behavior Using Thinking-Aloud Protocols to Detect Navigation Barriers BIBAKPDF 180-183
      Luuk Van Waes
    To describe and analyse the searching behavior of people looking for information on-line or off-line we set up two small-scale experiments. The experiments showed that the subjects were able to find information off-line more quickly than on the Web sites, but that on the other hand the answers given in the on-line mode were more accurate The search strategies in the on-line mode were also more divergent. Hyperlinks are often scanned separately from their context and subjects often seem to have very vague predictions of the contents behind the link (kind of information, amount of information).
    Keywords: Hypertext, Searching behavior, Thinking aloud, World Wide Web, Navigation

    Online Help in a Distributed Environment

    Help Design Challenges in Network Computing BIBAKPDF 184-193
      Ben Gelernter
    This paper tells what network computing is, why it is important to Help developers, and what the implications are for online Help design.
    Keywords: Help, Online help, Documentation, User assistance, Information architecture, Network computing, Thin clients, Network Computing Architecture, NCA
    Task-Oriented or Task-Disoriented: Designing a Usable Help Web BIBAKPDF 194-199
      Michael Priestley
    In this paper, we describe the content and design issues involved in creating a usable help web in support of a complex software product.
    Keywords: Task help, Help web, Information architecture, Task flows

    Technical Communications Departments

    Home Sweet Home: Where Do Technical Communication Departments Belong? BIBAPDF 200-205
      Nina Wishbow
    In most high-tech organizations, Technical Communication departments are located within "parent" departments such as Support, Development, or Product Management. The author examines the economic and sociological motivations driving these various "parent" groups. The author also recommends research on the effect of "parent" department on the writers' job satisfaction and the effectiveness of the communication product.
    Finding a Home for Technical Communication in the Academy BIBAPDF 206-213
      Michael Carver
    The placement of technical communication within an academic curriculum presents an interesting challenge for university administrators and faculty. Technical communication is a young discipline that borrows content from several older, more established disciplines. As a younger discipline, technical communication must combine its borrowed ingredients from other areas into a new and complete offering that can attract research funding for professionals in the academy and deliver job opportunities for its students preparing to enter industry. The credibility of technical communication as a new discipline is dependent on its ability to develop a cohesive body of basic and applied research, its ability to manage technological change, and its ability to promote its identity among an array of competing disciplines.

    Redesigning for the Web

    Designing a WinHelp Application for Quick Conversion to Lowest-Common-Denominator HTML-Based Help: A Case Study BIBAKPDF 214-218
      Laurie Kantner; Larry Rusinsky
    Many online help developers are eyeing delivery in HTML with concern, hesitating while HTML features catch up to what users of online help expect. A likely migration path for online help developers will be to convert a WinHelp project to HTML. Ideally, if the help developer can use the WinHelp project as the single-source starting point for creating HTML-based help, the help developer can continue to develop in WinHelp and yet produce HTML. However, challenges exist because the HTML will most likely be read in different browsers.
       This presentation describes a case study of developing a WinHelp project and then converting it -- with great efficiency -- to a single-source set of HTML-based help files for presentation in Netscape and Microsoft 3.x-version browsers. It describes how we modified the WinHelp source to minimize usability problems after conversion to HTML, and how we created macros to efficiently change hundreds of HTML files. It also describes desired HTML-based help features for usable online help.
    Keywords: HTML help, Conversion, WinHelp, Word macros
    Productivity Tools for Web-Based Information BIBAPDF 219-226
      Robin Green
    As computer documentation shifts from printed and proprietary online formats to the HTML standard, the writing environment poses technical challenges that are not always addressed by commercial tools. This paper describes the challenges our team encountered as we switched to HTML-based documentation, and the solutions we implemented to address those challenges.
    Creating an HTML Help System for Web-Based Products BIBAKPDF 227-233
      Laura Rintjema; Kara Warburton
    There are increasing market demands for information that is fast and easy to obtain and meets the user's immediate needs. This paper explores an online help system as an alternative to books as a venue for user information for software products. An Internet-based help system was developed to more effectively meet users' needs and better reflect the base product. Special tools were required to develop and manage the system. For users who want hardcopy, some printable files were also produced from the online help system.
    Keywords: Hypertext information system, Information architecture, Task-oriented help, Navigation

    Document Design and Production

    Goal-Driven Task Analysis: Improving Situation Awareness for Complex Problem-Solving BIBAPDF 234-242
      Michael J. Albers
    Goal-driven analysis is a methodology for determining what the user needs for solving complex problems. It is designed for use in systems with ill-structured problems, such as performance support or decision support systems, rather than the well-defined problems addressed by conventional task analysis. It assists in the creation of systems that enhance and support overall situation awareness. The analysis considers the user's decision making process while analyzing the required tasks and goals needed to accomplish the job. The result is a goal/information diagram relating the user's goals and information needs.
    Applying the Act-Function-Phase Model to Aviation Documentation BIBAKPDF 243-249
      David G. Novick; Said Tazi
    The act-function-phase model systematically relates the acts of the dialogue at time-of-use to the acts of the dialogue between author and users at time-of-development. We show how this kind of model of communicative action can be applied to the interactions described and embodied in a flight crew operating manual for a commercial aircraft. We claim that the model's abstraction provides basis for co-evolutionary design of procedures and their corresponding documentation.
    Keywords: Dialogue acts, Aircraft, Procedures
    Managing a Third-Party Alliance Documentation Development Project BIBAKPDF 250-257
      Dawn Desplanque
    This paper describes a method for planning and implementing, a third-party documentation development project.
       The third-party relationship has become an important method of doing business: it allows companies to get technology to customers faster, with quality, and in response to market needs, allowing them to take advantage of business opportunities. In addition, it allows market sharing: between the market of the third-party alliance company and their alliance partner (the product purchaser or reseller).
       Two scenarios are described:
  • - Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM).
  • - Customized. Within the above-mentioned scenarios, there are three levels of involvement: minimal; medium; and high. This paper discusses OEM and customized documentation development projects from the purchasing company's point of view.
       Regardless to the type of third-party alliance or the levels of involvement, there are three phases of planning and implementation that should be addressed:
  • - Phase I: Before the contract negotiations
  • - Phase II: Building a relationship with the third-party alliance company
  • - Phase III: Day-to-day operations In addition, this paper presents a set of project examples that provide information on the scope of each type of project and the attendant costs.
       This paper also presents a list of challenges that should be understood and monitored in order to minimize the risk in developing towards a successful project.
    Keywords: Third-party, Alliance, OEM, Customized, Fourth-party
  • Professional Education

    "But What Did We Learn...?" Evaluating Online Learning as a Process BIBAPDF 258-264
      Paul Beam; Brian Cameron
    This paper describes the kinds of evaluation employed in the creation and management of a credit course in technical writing developed at the University of Waterloo. From September 1995 to April 1998, sections of this course have been offered entirely on the Web to students across Canada at 4-month intervals. The course uses SGML converter technology in the creation and maintenance of its materials and in students' preparation and submission of assignments. Evaluation includes examination of students' records of system use and access, assignment preparation and a variety of electronic communications, as well as the electronic marking and measurement of their course assignments. We attempt to assess group performance against perceptions and to incorporate student requests into our design and expectations. In addition to the above methods, we present students with a series of optional on-line evaluations after significant assignments and at the conclusion of their final report at the end of the course. All student responses in this process remain anonymous.
    Analysis of Student Web Browsing Behavior: Implications for Designing and Evaluating Web Sites BIBAPDF 265-270
      Eva M. Thury
    Although users of the World Wide Web display several distinct patterns of information use, studies of user behavior are still often designed in terms of an information-retrieval model. Such a model is more suitable for information professionals like reference librarians or database search specialists working to locate information for others, on topics they are not themselves studying (Marchionini and Shneiderman 71). Recent work on Web site usability represents an attempt to assess user success in retrieving specific information as well as to describe user behavior while determining attitudes and making judgments (Spool et al.). Such browsing is more typical of Web users than the older information-seeking model. Browsing or surfing the web represents the main model for web use, especially among younger users (Hunter, Chapter 4) who, as this paper will suggest, in some ways typify the audience technical communicators should consider in designing for the web.

    Techniques for Web Design

    Measuring the Usability Index of Your Web Site BIBAKPDF 271-277
      Benjamin Keevil
    This paper discusses the development of a checklist that you can use to measure the usability index of your Web site. The paper: (1) summarizes existing ways to measure the usability of a Web site; (2) describes the development of a question-and-answer checklist that calculates a usability index; (3) applies the checklist to an example Web site.
       The checklist is available on the Web site (http://www3.sympatico.ca/bkeevil/sigdoc98) of Keevil & Associates. You can view the checklist in HTML table format or you can download it in Microsoft Excel format.
    Keywords: Usability index, Usability checklist, Quality, Web documents, WWW, World Wide Web, Technical writing, Information development, Page design, Guidelines
    Using HTML Frames for Institutional Websites BIBAKPDF 278-285
      Glenn J. Broadhead
    Condemnations of HTML frames ignore distinctions among website genres -- e.g., commercial, personal, institutional, and instructional websites, each of which has different goals and appropriate techniques. For mid-sized institutional websites, frames help to achieve two of that genre's major goals: navigation and orientation. To allow bookmarking of specific information for later retrieval, an individual frameset is required for each individual information file. These "redundant" framesets can be implemented most efficiently by exploiting differences between topical levels of information, layers of frame structure, and hierarchies for storing folders and files.
    Keywords: HTML, Frames, Website, Genre, Usability, Level of meaning, Layer of structure, Consistency
    Creating an Interactive Tutorial for the Web-Based Project BIBAKPDF 286-291
      Samantha Shurety
    As Web-based products become more sophisticated and complex, the need to create more effective ways to present product information becomes very important. This paper describes the development of an interactive Web-based tutorial as a way to more effectively meet users' needs and provide hands-on product experience. Extensive planning and development were necessary in order to ensure that the tutorial would accurately reflect the product and would be easy to use, flexible, and comprehensive.
    Keywords: E-commerce, Tutorial, Navigation, Interactive, Hands-on