Okay, so maybe you’re the exception and your software documentation is perfect. But if you’re like most companies – and we were right there with you – your documentation is confusing and out of date.
Our solution? In case you haven’t seen it yet, we put the Windward docs on a wiki — and so far it’s working out really well.
The new documentation wiki solved a bunch of problems:
- Old information. Because we release features when they’re ready – we don’t save up a bunch to release every nine months or whatever – our documentation was a moving target. It was out of date days after it was printed. But now when a developer checks in the final code for a new feature, he or she is required to document it in the wiki. This means the documentation is (usually!) up-to-date.
- Missing details. The level of detail and description of why you would use a new feature, as well as how, has jumped substantially. When a developer has checked in code, the “proud parent” wants to describe the new tool in detail, immediately.
- Lack of feedback. Before, if a customer found a mistake or unclear detail (yes, we’re human), editing the documentation was an arduous task. Now customers can edit or comment on the wiki at any time. We get immediate feedback about what works (and what doesn’t).
But we also found not all wikis are alike. We started off using a really popular one, but it had two fundamental problems.
One, the search feature didn’t work across all product sites. You could type “java reporting” and never find what you were looking for because you were in our java reporting engine section and not in our java reporting design tool section.
Two, it lacked an automated table of contents. No breadcrumbs, so you didn’t know where you were in the site or what related info might help you.
We just switched to one that’s WAY better. It has superb organization. It integrates with our online helpdesk. And its global search engine helps you get the information you need – fast. Check it out at http://wiki.windward.net/ and let us know what you think.