Automate Your Document Workflow!

Many organizations are bogged down in tedious, repetitive tasks — especially when it comes to documentation. The solution is to automate! Automation improves efficiency, saves time, eliminates redundant operations, and reduces costly errors. Any time your people are thinking, “there must be a better way,” there probably is!

Most documentation departments can’t afford to devote a full-time person to tools development. And it’s often not worth bringing someone in to create one tool for a single department. But across the organization, the startup cost and ongoing expense is easily justified.

Canvas your organization to find out how many small- to medium-sized tools are on the organization’s “wish list”, consolidate the list to find the ones that are needed everywhere, and then prioritize the list to create maximum impact in the shortest possible time. A few months or weeks devoted to each department can have a tremendous impact on the bottom line!

Tools projects:

  • Are short projects, typically lasting from a few days to a couple of weeks or, rarely, a couple months.
  • Allow work tasks to be automated, reducing errors, enabling deadlines, and improving effectiveness.
  • Require the attendant documentation and training necessary to utilize and extend them!

As an ex-developer, I have invariably involved myself in automation efforts, anywhere I was doing documentation. Here are some of the areas in which I have engaged, and tools I’ve used to do so: 

Departments

  • Release Engineering
  • Software Development
  • Documentation
  • Help Systems and APIs
  • Quality Control
 

Deliverables

  • Specifications
  • Code
  • Usage Instructions
  • Test Suites
  • Training


Operating Systems

  • Windows, Linux, Solaris


Scripting

  • CSH, Ruby, Rake, Perl, Awk,
  • Sed, Make, Sh, Window Powershell


Programming & Testing

  • Ruby, Java, RSpec
  • others too numerous to mention
Implemented projects:
  LinkCheck Find broken links in HTML pages. Identify missing anchors, as well as missing images and HTML files. For each page, list all errors found, so they can be corrected all at once.
  DocCheck Analyze API comments in Java source code. Find defects, provide a template for missing text.
  Scheduler Track project tasks and durations and predicts completion dates. On the CD that accompanies The JBuilder 2 Bible, and available here. (A single person application, for use when there are multiple demands on your time. Does not handle complex dependencies.)
  ProofTool Keeps a list of terms to change or review. Runs the entire list on a document at one time, giving the user interactive control over replacements. (MS-Word).
  WordToHTML Convert MS-Word Documents to HTML.
  HTML Table
Formatter
Convert HTML tables into plain ASCII text for display on character-based CRTs.

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