Thursday, November 13, 2008

The taxonomic conundrum of chicken salad

Let's say your cookbook has a section for chicken dishes and one for salads. Where do you put recipes for chicken salad?

Actually this is a relevant topic for me for a couple of reasons. For one, Atlanta STC is putting together a cook book for the upcoming Summit in May.

Secondly, I am working on refactoring current Help and user guide topics into a new, unified format that has proscribed topic containers for the TOC. The problem is that the navigation pane in the product's user interface has not been built around these TOC guidelines. Hence, certain tasks that the documentation guidelines would call Administering the product have been placed in a section called Configuration in the product's navigation tree. Oops, the documentation navigation guidelines include a container called Configuring.

We need to figure out the right balance between what expectations we think our product navigation creates and what would make us consistent with other products we might need to integrate our information topics with.

I'm tempted to take the solution of going to our developers and convincing them that where ever possible, they should match the product navigation guidelines to the documentation guidelines that have been proscribed.

Please, someone talk me out of this :-0


Margaret said...


I won't be the one to talk you out of it, because sometimes you really need a place to put those odd-n-ends of key information about conventions and structure of the product or the documentation that make the difference between the user smoothly finding what they need or wallowing in frustration. Even if every product doesn't need it, you need a hook to hang it on when one does. Go to the developers and get it.

On the chicken salad conundrum, I've seen cookbooks that separate salads into main course salads that are the meal vs side salads that are accompaniments to the meal. Would that help?


Anonymous said...

If your organization is proscribing things, they should proscribe the same things for everybody working on a product. So, just go to the VP of Proscribed Things and get them to make the developers match the doc :) Easy as pie!

As for chicken salad, it's not really salad, it's really just a cold chicken casserole. I think to qualify as salad, a dish needs to be mostly vegetable, with some animal perhaps thrown in as a condiment, like caesar salad w/chicken. IMHO.

I need to find out who to send the STC recipes to. I actually made a good greens recipe the other night.