Categorizing Documentation

At the risk of sounding pedantic, I thought up a scheme for categorizing technical documentation. Why would I do this? The answer is that I wanted to describe the current state of a product’s documentation in more precise terms.

I picked three categories:

  1. Primary. The manuals, guides, and help pages created by the product’s developer.
  2. Secondary. Books published about the product such as those published by O’Reilly.
  3. Tertiary. Guides, howtos, and technical notes published on the Internet by the community.

A popular product such as git or RedHat Linux is strong in all three. Open source products often have minimal primary documentation but instead rely on tertiary documentation. I just recently had experience with a product with no secondary or tertiary documentation at all. That was rough! The tertiary documents help supplement and clarify the first two kinds and hence play a key role.

I will use this scheme in subsequent posts when I write again about documentation, as I certainly will.

Categories: Documentation


Share Your Ideas

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: