When I started blogging a month ago, I promised myself to at-least post 1 entry every week. Last week I was busy training and could not find enough time to post. So the first thing I did after finishing my classes today was to blog.
In this post I have covered Document development life cycle (DDLC). Hope you find this information useful.
Document development life cycle (DDLC) includes the various stages involved in structured document creation. It ranges from requirement analysis through maintenance of the completed document. The DDLC comprises of the following stages:
Project start-up generally involves the creation of project plan. It includes understanding the project objectives and constraints in terms of time, quality, and cost. The scope of the project is clearly defined along with standards to be followed throughout the project. This phase also involves identifying key personnel responsible for providing, reviewing, and approving document content.
Requirement analysis for documentation includes Audience Analysis, tools that will be used in the project. You try to understand the learning gap and come up with strategies required in achieving the project goal. You also decide the format and the delivery media for the document at this phase.
Outlining the Document
Outlining means creating an overall plan of the document, which is also known as the skeleton framework of the document. This framework comprises of preface or introduction, table of contents, chapter information/sequence, index, glossary etc. A technical writer only needs to explain all the elements, once the plan is ready.
Preparing a prototype comprises of template consideration, developing a style guides, creating a sample section of the document.
A template depicts the physical appearance of the document. While designing the template, you need to consider all the specifications, styles, and standards required for the document. This includes page size, page margins, header/footer, heading styles, font type, font size, and figure/table representations etc.
A style guide is a set of standards to be followed to design and write documents. This guide contains information regarding the various styles defined for the document template. It consists of definitions of various styles that are to be used in the document.
Developing the document requires actual writing of the document, and integration of the various components (graphics, glossary, search items) of the document. This phase also involves document reviews and revisions and management of documentation issues. Now, the document is ready for testing.
Testing involves measuring the quality of the document. This involves review by quality analysts on parameters like correctness, completeness, adherence to standards, and usability.
Packaging means making a document ready to deliver to the client. There are two types of packaging: book design and binding; and integrating help in application. If the help manual is in book format that is supposed to go along with the product, it goes for printing to produce copies. Online help is integrated with the help of software developers in the respective application. Online help is always delivered with the help of CD or other devices that can be used to carry the data. There are different types of such deliveries to help the clients, depending on the product.
Maintenance involves maintaining the deliverables. For example, it may involve content reuse analysis and elimination of redundant data from the document sets. It may also include template revision or inclusion of new product features. Understanding the DDLC helps in efficient and quality document creation.