Microvision designed and built a low-cost, handheld, laser bar code scanner, called Flic. The Flic contained many configuration options, operating modes, and protocol formats. The documentation for both the Flic scanner and for the SDK was sparse. Many sections in the documentation were unclear or incomplete. Much information was missing and these omissions required unhappy developers to rely on email and phone support to explain how to interface to the scanner and how to write their application code.
Microvision Inc. (Redmond, WA)
I gathered as much of the internal documentation and notes as I could find and arranged the information in a logical manner with each section in separate HTML files. Common style sheets were created to give all HTML files the same look and feel. The individual HTML files were then organized and compiled using Microsoft’s HTML Help Workshop. The SDK documentation was combined with the Flic Technical data to create a single hyper-linked manual.
Customers and Microvision personnel had a single source for all technical data. The compressed Help file had a small footprint and was easily copied onto local machines, emailed, and posted on the corporate website. The SDK sections contained links to related sections and included source code samples that were automatically generated by special comments in the actual SDK source code.
Microvision developers spent less time writing their applications because the technical data for scanner was readily available and easily accessible using the on-line manual/help system. This saved time for the developer, reduced the support time expended by Microvision, and drove greater sales. The engineering department could update source code comments and have these comments were automatically extracted and formatted for use in the on-line manual.