I'm Robert Lee, one of the Information Development managers here at Symantec. My team publishes docs for security products such as Security Information Manager and LiveUpdate. I'm starting this blog so that I can hear directly from the IT community what they like and don't like about our documentation. And I'll also try to answer some common questions about our publications. If you have comments about the documents that my team publishes, or any other Symantec documentation just let me know. I'll forward the feedback to the right team.
I also want to give readers notification when my team posts updates to our docs. We publish updates frequently, so hopefully you'll have an opportunity to update some of the docs that you've had on your USB drive since the beta!
I'd like to start off by answering a question an engineer friend asked me recently:
"Is it just me, or are technical documents getting dumber every year? The sentences read like they're from a Dick and Jane book!"
Well, I can't speak for the whole profession, but things are definitely moving toward a simpler writing style than you probably saw 5-10 years ago. One of the reasons is readability. Shorter sentences are easier to read. This is especially important when you're trying to give clear instructions to the reader. This is probably less satisfying for savvy users, but is generally better for people trying to accomplish a task for the first time.
Another big reason for moving to a simpler writing style is to reduce the cost of translation. By writing in a style known as "controlled language," we are able to make machine translation much more successful. With controlled language and the latest translation tools, we can automatically translate over 90% of the text that we write in US English. This helps reduce cost and make our products available to other regions much more quickly.
So there it is, my inaugural post. Please let me know what you think -- in controlled language or otherwise!
Message Edited by John_B on 04-13-2007 12:57 PM