Welcome!

.NET Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, ChandraShekar Dattatreya, Trevor Parsons, Peter Silva

Related Topics: Virtualization, SOA & WOA, .NET, AJAX & REA

Virtualization: Book Review

Developing Quality Technical Information: Third Edition

A Handbook for Writers and Editors

As an enterprise and software architect the one thing I hate most about my job is documentation, yet the importance of doing documentation on sizable projects is what I find myself preaching about the most.

One reason I understand the importance of documentation is that I came from an electronic engineering background. As an electronic engineer 93% - 97% of my time was consumed doing proof of concepts and documentation. Almost all of that time was documentation.

It was just my luck that my boss was an English grammar teacher before moving into engineering. My documents came back very bloody. He used a red pen to mark up my documents. It took me 2 years, and a whole lot of tongue biting, but I started getting papers through him without a red mark. I still remember the first one. I walked outside to where the smokers took their breaks and let out a screaming "YES, Finally!!!"

I have been without my grammar teaching boss for over 18 years now, and I am pretty sure if he came across the book reviews I am writing now, he would be sending me bloodied up copies!!! I really needed this book!!

Technical documentation is a hard skill set to learn, at least doing good technical documentation is. I have been on Template Zombie projects where teams considered documentation complete when they had filled in enough templates to overwhelm the customer to the point where they would not have time to review 1/10 of what was being written.

One project I was on built a documentation generator so it was easier to duplicate documents and only change the title and a few pieces of content. The sad part of that project was they got paid for each document handed in. The criteria for getting paid for use cases were that they had to have something underneath every heading in the document.

Documentation should not be something you check off of the project's task list, it should add value to the project or it should not be done. This book will definitely help you make valuable documentation. I have listed the chapters below to give you an idea of what the book covers.

Part 1: Introduction
Chapter 1. Technical information continues to evolve
Chapter 2. Developing quality technical information

Part 2: Easy to use
Chapter 3. Task orientation
Chapter 4. Accuracy
Chapter 5. Completeness

Part 3: Easy to understand
Chapter 6. Clarity
Chapter 7. Concreteness
Chapter 8. Style

Part 4: Easy to find
Chapter 9. Organization
Chapter 10. Retrievability
Chapter 11. Visual effectiveness

Part 5: Putting it all together
Chapter 12. Applying more than one quality characteristic
Chapter 13. Reviewing, testing, and evaluating technical information

Part 6: Appendixes
Appendix A. Quality checklist
Appendix B. Who checks which characteristics?
Glossary
Resources and references

When I came into the Dot Com Boom I found some software engineering, but most of what I found was the wild west and cowboy coding running rampant. The industry has not changed much since then. We just gave names to the chaotic processes to justify our lack of discipline. I continued my engineering practices and quickly learned how to document software processes and architectures, but convincing others to do it was a different story.

The only way I have been able to show it has value is do it myself. After the team sees I am willing to suffer the boredom of documentation they tend to step in and help. That wouldn't happen if we didn't make use of the documentation and they didn't see value in it.

It has been years since I have had someone to officially review it. This book really helps keep the important things in mind, and since there is no one else to review it, I can use all the help I can get. Right now one of the things I do to catch issues in my documents is have them spoken back to me using the speech capabilities on my computers. This helps me catch sentence structure issues, and some typos. It doesn't catch using the wrong their/there, insure/ensure, except/accept, and many more like sounding words that I mess up.

I use Sparx Enterprise Architect to document systems. Behind every diagram you find the information that explains them. If that information is not simple to understand, and easy to read, the diagram's value falls greatly.

Throughout the process you need to write for several different audiences. Your stakeholders are interested in different aspects of the system. Creating a clear view of what each type of stakeholder wants to see is a painful process, but it always pays off.

It makes me think about the solution from angles I normally wouldn't. Not only think about them, but diagram and describe them in a way that the solution's diagrams and associated documents can stand on their own. It makes me justify and clarify all the decisions made about the system, before it is in production!

Doing documentation is like coding. You start with a shell of what you are building, and you add the details to the different topics with each iteration of your development cycle. Your goal- to make simple, complete, accurate, logical, easy to understand documents. That is exactly what this book will guide you to do.

There are tons of examples showing the original text, diagram, or screen shot of a design, and then the revised version. There are two really cool appendices and a nice glossary. The first appendix is a huge checklist for quality characteristic. The second appendix is a big chart showing which roles should be reviewing the different aspects of the document.

Over all I found every chapter of this book valuable. As time goes on, the hardest part for me is keeping it all in mind. For that reason, this book will be staying by my side just like each of my current most useful programming books. If you do any documenting of software systems, this is a must read. Every software architect, enterprise architect, CIO, developer, tester, and project manager working on a software project, should have this book in his or her hands. You own to your stakeholders and yourself.


Developing Quality Technical Information: A Handbook for Writers and Editors (3rd Edition)

Developing Quality Technical Information: A Handbook for Writers and Editors (3rd Edition)

More Stories By Tad Anderson

Tad Anderson has been doing Software Architecture for 18 years and Enterprise Architecture for the past few.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.