Workflow and Copyediting Time

It’s copyediting time for me. On my team, that means a lot of topics are all now ready for me to do what might be my final edit pass over them—in fact, half of the documentation set for this product is ready. The other half will be ready in about a month, and I’ll have…


Style Guides

The Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications is our house style guide, of course. It contains information specific to computer terminology and usage (e-mail, toolbar), and it also gives guidance for general writing (that vs. which, tone and the reader). The broad coverage makes it very useful as a single reference that I can…


Planning for the Next Version

We have had a couple of offsite meetings in the past two weeks to prepare for the next version of our products. The documentation team met at the Seattle Public Library, which I had not been to since it was rebuilt. The product team met at a conference center on the Microsoft campus.We spent two…


Interview with Eli Murray, Programmer/Writer for Visual Studio Help and Search

Eli is a programmer/writer on the Visual Studio core IDE team. One of the features she writes about is the Help system in Visual Studio. We talked about how the Help experience has changed from Visual Studio 2003 to Visual Studio 2005, especially in the area of searching. This podcast audio file is 22MB in size, and is…


Interview with Tonda Kiffin, Content Discoverability Editor

Tonda is the content discoverability editor for Visual Studio 2005. We talked about what a discoverability editor does, and the work she did to make content easier to find in the upcoming release of Visual Studio. This podcast audio file is 12MB in size, and is 25 minutes long. Interview with Tonda Kiffin


How to: Increase Discoverability (Follow Up)

We decided to call the new topics “walkthroughs,” and give them titles that describe the end-to-end experience that they document. Putting the right keywords in the title will help searches, and should make the topic stand out in index results. We will see if that attracts enough attention. If people can’t find them, we’ll revisit…


How to: Increase Discoverability of New Topics?

My team is discussing how we can make some new topics discoverable, so that the target readers can find them easily. We wrote these topics as complete procedures to give an overview of a complex area that is currently documented in detail, without much of an end-to-end viewpoint. The new topics will help our users…


New Users

I just watched two usability study participants use our tools (Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the Microsoft Office System). Neither of them had previously done any Microsoft Office programming, which is what our tools are for. So I got to see them using the documentation and trying to figure things out based on the…


Structured Content and Content Reuse

I just finished a two-day training class on managing structured content. The main ideas in the class were around how to analyze your content and create a content model, then identify where text can be reused. Single-sourcing (creating content once and using that as the source of all of your content types) and reuse were…


Interview with Paul Cornell, Documentation Manager at Microsoft

I interviewed Paul Cornell, a documentation manager for the Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for the Microsoft Office System team and also for the Visual Studio development environment team. We talked about his role as a documentation manager, his goals for the version of the documentation that will be shipping soon, and his ideas for the next release. This podcast audio file is…