Aaron and I use Google Docs (as well as other Google applications) quite extensively. We joke that we’ve quaffed a lot of Google’s Kool Aid, and like it so much that we always come back for more.
Our main reasons for using Google Docs are its ease of access and its simplicity. Wherever we are, we can work on notes and drafts and articles and more as long as we have a wireless Internet connection. If not, then we can work offline using Google Gears. On top of that, Google Docs is easy to use and has just the features we need.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve read complaints in various blogs about how Google Docs (and other Google apps) aren’t updated with big, splashy features — compared to, say, rivals like Yahoo! Mail or Zoho Office. Google handles changes to its applications in the right way: one that has little apparent impact on the user.
This recent article in Information Week mentions a survey that reveals effective usage as a far more important factor for realizing value in a software deployment than features and functionality.
The report, Achieving Enterprise Software Success, found that usability is the most important factor in determining the overall value of enterprise software in terms of creating a competitive advantage, reducing costs, and growing revenue.
In the various development shops in which I’ve worked over the years, I noticed polarized attitudes towards users. In couple of the shops, developers really went out of their way to address the needs of the users. They listened to the concerns of their users, tried to give them the features that they wanted, and fix usability problems with the application. They didn’t always succeed, but many of the customers appreciated the effort.
One of the challenges that comes with authoring documentation using a wiki is getting the documentation out of a wiki and into another format. Sure, there are wiki to PDF converters, and filters for exporting to HTML and XHTML. But what are the options for converting wiki content to a (relatively) structured format?
This blog post discusses reversing the flow of the RoboHelp2Wiki plugin for MediaWiki to pull wiki content into RoboHelp.
Recently, a colleague sent me a document detailing the DITA message specialization. The document is an HTML Help file, and I noticed that many of the links in the file (which described certain DITA elements) had tooltips which appeared when I held the mouse pointer over them.
I viewed the source of one of the topics in the file, and discovered that the author of the document had added the HTML title attribute to the links, along with a description of each DITA element. It was a simple and effective solution, one which didn’t require any scripting. Overall, it was a nice touch.
Then, I began to wonder how useful something like this actually is.