Saturday Oct 21, 2006

Documentation and Information - Lessons learned from consumer products

Documentation, support, building relations with companies - lessons learned[Read More]

Sunday Aug 06, 2006

Apple Final Cut Studio and the Excitement of Documentation

Finally broke down and got Apple Final Cut Studio, and my initial impressions have got me thinking enough to write a blog entry. My first impression of the product box is that it is heavy. And why is it heavy? Because the box contains books, lots and lots of books. A Getting Started Guide, a four volume User Manual, plus manuals for Motion 2, Soundtrack Pro, and DVD Studio Pro. But there is more. If you pause while looking at the books, you get the positive sensation of holding a book in your hands, of being able to turn the pages, skipping through the book without entering keywords in a search box. There is a value and excitement to a good book, and I consider a well-written piece of product documentation to be a good book.

Now don't get me wrong, before you dismiss my enjoyment of a good, hardcopy version of product documentation as being so 1990's, I am an avid proponent of delivering docs online, and delivering different types of information. It's not just about books anymore, and it's not just about content or information in any one form. It's not just about a group of tech writers that provides you with information. It's about how you participate in a related collection of information that spans groups, products, technologies, and information types. It's about working together to get you the information you need to be productive.

As we open source more of our software, more information comes from you, and we are actively trying to build communities of users who contribute content about our products and technologies. That content can be anything from a forum post, technical article, retail book (yes there is a big emphasis on writing more retail books), tutorial, how to, FAQ, Flash demo, podcast, and the whole Web 2.0 support where you will have an even greater number of options to select and organize the information that is relevant to you.

So, I encourage you to get involved. The Sun Developer Network, netbeans.org Community, and the opensolaris.org OpenSolaris Communities pages are good places to start.

Still, I don't want to forget about the excitement of a good book, and I haven't even described my perceptions of the joy of removing the shrink wrap from a new book. Now that's another couple of paragraphs .....

Saturday Aug 27, 2005

Blowing the cobwebs off my blog -- Rich Client, Solaris Developer, LinuxWorld

I realize it been almost a month since my last blog entry, so I really need to channel a few calories into the ol' blog and resuscitate this beast. It's not that I haven't been thinking this last month; I've been thinking a lot. I just haven't been thinking about channeling my thoughts into a public forum. It's not even that I've been thinking of anything that is all that confidential; just too many rough edges on the thoughts to make interesting.

Part of what I've been working on this last month is developing proposed training plans for some of our developer products. Training classes for creating Rich Client applications with NetBeans IDE. We have some Rich Client information in the NetBeans IDE Field Guide, and we would like to do more to highlight the value of using NetBeans IDE, NetBeans Platform, and the Desktop Java APIs.

I am also working on proposed training plans for Solaris Developers, people who develop applications for Solaris or who will be modifying OpenSolaris. Here we are looking at a set of classes that would help Windows and Linux developers to port their applications to Solaris, or to give developers new to Solaris enough information to get started with modifying and extending OpenSolaris. Writing portable code; optimizing application performance on Solaris; compile, edit, debug, analyze program performance with Sun Studio 10 (marketing info, developer documentation), writing device drivers, and working in a mixed native C, C++, Fortran and Java code environment. Lot of interesting points to ponder.

Earlier this month, I did Sun Studio booth duty at LinuxWorld, and this was a really exciting event for us. We have alpha versions of the C and Fortran compilers for Linux. The C++ engineering team is also working on the Linux version of the C++ compiler. Nice to get the preview versions of the compilers out in time for LinuxWorld. There was also a lot of good interaction between the people at the Sun Studio, OpenSolaris, and the Ultra 20 booths. What is really exciting (I am trying to avoid saying way cool) about the Ultra 20 is that it comes with fully licensed versions of the developer tools.

We are starting to talk about Supercomputing 2005 in Seattle, Nov. 12 to 18, and it's always nice to talk about HPTC (marketing page, documentation links).

Part of being a manager is recognizing the value of the people in your org and the value of their contributions. We are really looking at how developer documentation can help you to efficiently use the product. For Java Studio Creator, we have a tutorials team that has been doing a tremendous job of writing Java Studio Creator tutorials and an online help team where we now have the online help on developers.sun.com (this is a web-based version of the online help provided with the Java Studio Creator product). Most of the tutorials were previously available as locked content where you needed to pay for a SDN subscription, but a lot of the tutorials are now provided for free, and we are working on getting the online help unlocked.

I will continue to highlight the doc and information contributions people are making for other products in future blogs. For now, I've run out of thoughts, and I need to save something to write about for tomorrow's entry. The siren song of Peet's coffee calls. I have also found that adding several scoops of Double Rainbow French Vanilla to my espresso is a very cost-effective, efficient, and labor-saving way of getting the satisfaction of some of the higher-priced coffee beverage products, and I don't even have to sully the blender.

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Sunday Jul 31, 2005

Lazy Thoughts on a Sunday Morning

Haven't quite made the trek yet to the espresso maker, so I've been having a lazy Sunday morning browsing the different blogs looking to see what makes me open my eyes a bit.

IBM unveils mainframe blog called Mainframe. I immediately thought of rchrd.

I really like what the BBC is doing with RSS feeds, like their front page RSS feed, and their use of RSS feeds for topics. Macromedia also has an interesting list of feeds, and you can customize the list or create an RSS feed based on Search Terms. Could we set up some pages on a Docs page on opensolaris.org where we have updated lists of blog entries or a page showing blog entries grouped by community or topic? We could also try this for pages on developers.sun.com where we have RSS feeds for the technical articles for the various hubs?

I've been using Sage as an RSS Reader, and I really like it. Sage lets me know when various blogs and web sites have been updated, but I still have to look at all the updates to see what is interesting to me. I'd like an RSS feed that shows me all the postings on netbeans or dtrace. Doing a Google search on "site:=blogs.sun.com dtrace" helps, but I'd still like the results displayed in an RSS reader. Technorati helps with searching on topics like netbeans modules, but without an agreed upon set of metadata, the search results aren't as focused as I would like.

We are getting the content, but it is a lot of isolated and random topics. For us to really use this information, we need to do more to aggregate the information.

Enough thinking for now. Downstairs to coffee (Peet's Italian Roast).

Wednesday Jul 20, 2005

JavaOne 2005 conference presentations available in PDF for download

PDF files for the 2005 JavaOne conference technical sessions are now available for download. More information is on the 2005 JavaOne Conference home page.

Saturday Jun 25, 2005

High Performance Computing (HPC) Consortium

The Europe 2005 Sun HPC Consortium was held June 20-21, 2005 in Heidelberg, Germany. These HPC Consortium meetings are a good way to learn more about what people are doing with HPC. The variety of topics covered by the HPC Consortium meetings is highlighted in the links to previous presentations that you access from the Sun HPC Consortium Registration page. I found my name on the list for the 2003 HPC Consortium on Saturday, June 21, 2003 in Heidelberg, Germany where I gave a presentation on HPTC Technical Publications.

To participate in the Sun HPC Consortium, you can subscribe to the SunHPC email list. The email list is run by the Sun Center of Excellence at Aachen Technical University.Dieter an Mey supports and participates in many HPC and technical computing activities, such as the High Performance Computing on the Sun Fire SMP-Cluster Workshop, held last March 14 - 18, 2005 in Aachen, Germany, and the First International Workshop on OpenMP IWOMP 2005 (program), held last May, 2005 in Eugene, Oregon.

Friday Jun 24, 2005

A Hodgepodge of Minor Learning Exercises

Today was a hodgepodge of interesting little learning exercises. This whole blogging experience is having a positive effect on my learning and interests. Looking at other blogs, thinking about all the information that is available, wondering how to best organize that information so you can find it, lots of things to think about.

Today I spent some time reading about the Bash shell, some of the commands in the man pages section 1:User Commands manual on docs.sun.com, and trying out the Sun Studio demos for JavaOne.

Mark G. Sobell's book Practical Guide to Solaris is still an interesting and helpful book. I've also been reading about CSS files. The O'Reilly books Cascading Style Sheets and CSS Cookbook have been helpful.

Thursday Jun 23, 2005

Getting Ready for JavaOne

The days leading up to JavaOne are getting more interesting. People have been working hard to get everything ready for the show. Sun Studio will have a booth at the show, and we went through the Sun Studio demos today. We have some demos that show Java and C++ code, which could be interesting to people doing mixed-language development. Sun Studio hasn't had much of a presence at JavaOne before, so if you get a chance, stop by the Sun Studio booth and check it out.

Patrick Keegan is in town from Prague, and he has started blogging about his JavaOne experiences and his work on the NetBeans IDE Field Guide.We found out today there will be a book signing at the reception that follows NetBeans Day on Sunday, June 26. It's also nice to see some of the other people that are in town from Prague and to put some faces with the voices I've heard during our phone meetings.

We had an OpenSolaris docs meeting today where we talked about the different docs being referred to in the OpenSolaris communities. Sue Weber started her blog today, so she'll start to some good Solaris and OpenSolaris information for you in the coming days.

Just a reminder that the 3rd OpenSolaris User Group Meeting is next Tuesday, June 28, in Santa Clara. For more information, please see Alan DuBoff's June 22 blog entry.I'll be at JavaOne next week, so I won't be able to attend the user group meeting, but I will plan on attending future user group meetings.

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Tuesday Jun 14, 2005

Sun Studio 10 and OpenSolaris

OpenSolaris is live today. Some useful Sun Studio and OpenSolaris links are:

The OpenSolaris Community: Tools page has information on the Sun Studio 10 Developer Tools, and links to the following:

Information on building OpenSolaris is in the OpenSolaris Developer's Reference Guide.

The Sun Studio 10 compilers and tools are mentioned in the following sections of the OpenSolaris Developer's Reference Guide:

Monday Jun 13, 2005

Passion for Innovation

My reason for thinking about points of inflection, where the concavity of a function changes from concave up to concave down or from concave down to concave up, is to get an idea of when trends change and to look at how we can facilitate positive or negative changes. Facilitating negative changes comes from reacting to the downward trends, losing sight of the excitement of creating something new, or continuing to do what worked five years ago when we had twice the staff and a different business model. Facilitating positive changes comes from encouraging people to try new and creative ways of creating products and documentation, having some fun working with an interesting product and with interesting people, and prioritizing the work so you can do the best job you can with the time and energy you have available.

For tech pubs, five years ago, we focused on manuals and man pages for the compilers and Solaris docs and online help for NetBeans. We still continue to support those docs, but we have also branched out in some new areas. Richard Friedman has been putting a lot of effort over the last few years on the Sun Studio hub of developers.sun.com. John Stearns has written a technical article "Roadmap to Sun Developer Documentation," posted on the Solaris hub of developers.sun.com. Geertjan Wielenga continues to deliver a number of interesting and helpful blog entries. John Jullion-Ceccarelli is also posting blog entries on NetBeans. Alta Elstad has her blog on device drivers going, and she has been working with us on providing docs support for OpenSolaris.

There are a lot of possibilities, and there is a lot of work to be done. Jonathan talks about growing the business and making money. It's easier to do that when we have the passion for innovation and the satisfaction that comes from knowing we are giving our developers the products and information they need.

Friday Jun 10, 2005

Introduction

Here we go with the initial entry in my blog. I am a technical publications manager for the group that writes the Solaris Developer, Sun Studio, NetBeans IDE, and Mobility Pack documents. I'd like to use this blog to tell you about the various documents we write and the various web-based docs available to developers. A lot of information is available in a wide-variety of places, and the location of that information isn't always obvious. With the numerous blogs being started, there are that many more places to find useful information.

I would also like to talk about Technical Publications as a profession and of how we contribute value to you and to Sun. We are always looking for new and better ways of providing you with information. Sharing those ideas with you and getting your comments on what you like, need, and expect with documentation will help us to better meet your needs.

The quality of the documentation and information provided with a product can make a big difference in your adoption of the product and your success with using the product. I look forward to sharing ideas on how to maximize that success.

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dlindt

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