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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Benefits pub. departments from one person to 1,000
I am the lone writer in a chaotic startup software environment, trying to develop our company's first documentation development process, and this book is an absolute dream come true - there is no more accurate description!
The writing style alternates between academic and anecdotal, with true examples from many companies. I believe that this style ensures that...
Published on 27 Jan 1999

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3.0 out of 5 stars Should have been shorter
I have very mixed feelings about this book. Clearly Hackos has a tremendous amount of experience and has seen many successful projects from start to finish. Nonetheless, I'm troubled by the length of the book and the heavy reliance on project management methodologies from other disciplines. Hackos has correctly recognized that a documentation project has to be broken...
Published on 30 Jun 1999


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Benefits pub. departments from one person to 1,000, 27 Jan 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Managing Your Documentation Projects (Wiley Technical Communication Library) (Paperback)
I am the lone writer in a chaotic startup software environment, trying to develop our company's first documentation development process, and this book is an absolute dream come true - there is no more accurate description!
The writing style alternates between academic and anecdotal, with true examples from many companies. I believe that this style ensures that the book offers something to everyone, no matter the size of their department or experience level. A large amount of information is presented, which makes the work pretty exhaustive, but Hackos provides a guide in the first section to which sections are essential to the reader based on the reader's needs.
If you are a documentation manager, or if you ever want to be, this book is essential. I can see myself flipping through this book 30 or 40 years from now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-have for anyone trying to plan a large project, 12 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Managing Your Documentation Projects (Wiley Technical Communication Library) (Paperback)
I have used this textbook twice instructing advanced technical writing courses at Portland State University. I have found it easy to use, well-written, and organized the way I expect it.
The main point Hackos makes is that every publications department sits somewhere on the planning continuum. She introduces the concept of the Publications Development Life Cycle (PDLC). Your department may range from Level 0, oblivious, to Level 5, continuously incrementally improving. She identifies the main tasks needed to move from one level to another.
The three main tools used to plan for projects are the information plan, a high-level strategic document; the project plan, a set of timelines and estimates for page counts and money; and a content specification, a detailed outline of every deliverable.
Hackos has done a masterful job of setting forth the theory behind the reasoning. Her examples demonstrate not only how important planning is, but the commitment that has to be made to make it succeed. If every technical writer had this book on their shelf, our profession would take a huge step forward.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars useful, exhaustive, 5 Jan 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Managing Your Documentation Projects (Wiley Technical Communication Library) (Paperback)
I'm glad I bought the book. Many of the things you learn in a hands-on fashion in technical writing have been collected into a proven, workable volume. I haven't finished the book yet because it's so thick. Even though I like reading it and am learning and formulating new ideas, I think 250 pages rather than 600 would make it even more useful. Maybe some of the sidebar discussions could be shortened or deleted, but who am I to critique such a masterful writer?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very good reference for effective documentation process, 13 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Managing Your Documentation Projects (Wiley Technical Communication Library) (Paperback)
For novice or experienced writers, this book offers more insight into good documentation processes than any other book I have read. The approach advocated by the author is applicable in any documenation development effort, be it hardware or software, commercial or mil spec. There really is something for everyone.
This book focuses on the need for a solid planning effort as the basis for all major decisions. Information planning, content planning, scheduling, and resource allocation are all covered in a comprehensive and thorough manner.
Throughout the book, the author chooses as an organizing principle the concept of a documentation life cycle. Thus, readers have a conceptual framework that they can use to relate what the author has written to their own experience.
As well, the author classifies the stages of development of a publications group from chaos to a team capable of a managed, repeatable, and worthwhile effort that enhances the product. I have had both the misfortune and good fortune to have worked with each type of organization that the author describes. The descriptions are breathtaking in their accuracy.
This book is written in a very readable style. There are numerous case studies and examples. Clearly, the author has extensive experience and has drawn upon this to provide a very useful book.
This book should be on every technical writer's shelf.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Should have been shorter, 30 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Managing Your Documentation Projects (Wiley Technical Communication Library) (Paperback)
I have very mixed feelings about this book. Clearly Hackos has a tremendous amount of experience and has seen many successful projects from start to finish. Nonetheless, I'm troubled by the length of the book and the heavy reliance on project management methodologies from other disciplines. Hackos has correctly recognized that a documentation project has to be broken into stages, and the stages she suggests are (pretty) good. But the sheer number of deliverables produced in each phase is overwhelming. By bombarding developers with doc deliverables (information plans, content specifications, etc.) during the development cycle, you risk becoming the ninny on your software project--or more precisely, the schoolmarm. And that, I think, is what bothers me about this book in general: the schoolmarmish tone that resurfaces throughout. There is just too much detail.
Hackos is correct to suggest that writers must establish better rapport with developers. I think the way to do that, however, is to get closer to real development methodologies (rather than writing methodologies) that are gaining steam today. (Best example: Rational Software's Unified Process.) If the profession is ever to get the respect it deserves, technical writers will have to become more like programmers, and less like English teachers.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Do you want a good guide to doc management? Buy this book., 6 May 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Managing Your Documentation Projects (Wiley Technical Communication Library) (Paperback)
This is an excellent source for documentation managers. I was thrust into a managing role after 1.5 years as a technical writer. This book really helped me make a mole hill out of a mountain. My only complaint is the extranious graphics/illustrations (which offer no profound insight or information). These graphics may add white space, making the book less intimidating to the green reader, but this is a specialized topic for a specialized audience, which doesn't need such pedestrian graphics. If you can learn to ignore the illustrations and stick to the content (which is excellent, by the way), this book will help you get a grip on managing documentation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST for every tech doc manager, 23 Oct 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Managing Your Documentation Projects (Wiley Technical Communication Library) (Paperback)
This book is an indispensable tool for anyone who is assigned the task of managing a technical documentation project. Every phase of the project is addressed. Good examples and thoughtful questions prompt the reader to assess aspects of a project that may have slip past the most critical eye in prior projects.
I have read and re-read this book. Each time I pick it up I learn another salient fact about the art of project management. I am currently on my fourth copy of the book as I keep giving my copy to those in need.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Have for any documentation manager., 30 Nov 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Managing Your Documentation Projects (Wiley Technical Communication Library) (Paperback)
This book is absolutely excellent. The information is laid out well and the suggestions have helped me beyond words. I now create Information Plans and other documents prior to starting a new project and the results have been wonderful.
The results of this "pre" documentation have proven very effective further down the road and have assisted me in gaining larger budgets for my team, as well as additional projects.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Practical Documentation and Planning Guidelines, 8 July 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Managing Your Documentation Projects (Wiley Technical Communication Library) (Paperback)
This book is excellent in educating the new technical writer, but goes deep enough that experienced writers will gain from the wisdom provided in this book.
It read easily and you can read a chapter, independent of having read other chapters.
Good examples and sound practical information you can use to plan your documents.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best guidebook available for Technical Publication Managers, 22 Oct 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Managing Your Documentation Projects (Wiley Technical Communication Library) (Paperback)
Joann's recommendations come from the everyday experiences of managers. She did her homework by benchmarking best practices in the industry.
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