ERIC Number: ED248833
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-May-21
Reference Count: 0
A Structured Model for Software Documentation.
The concept of "structured programming" was developed to facilitate software production, but it has not carried over to documentation design. Two concepts of structure are relevant to user documentation for computer programs. The first is based on programming techniques that emphasize decomposition of tasks into discrete modules, while the second was developed in discourse analysis to explain strategies used by readers and to model their cognitive processes in forming mental models of text content. Consideration of the text production and text comprehension approaches together provides a basis for designing "user-friendly" software manuals. A model for structured documentation suggests the need for: modules to be appropriate macropropositions (global content of the text); clear identification of module function as a tutorial, operational, or reference component; planned ordering of modules and explicit superstructures to help readers identify effective strategies; and adequate access points to modules through such devices as indexes. An examination of the surface structures of 15 manuals for microcomputer file management indicated that structural guidance in existing manuals is inadequate. Nine references and the manuals that were examined are listed. (LMM)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Mid-Year Meeting of the American Society for Information Science (13th, Bloomington, IN, May 21, 1984).