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Technical Writing, Systems Analysis, and Data System Architecture

One of my most enjoyable professional experiences for me has been writing documentation. As an inveterate reader, I am fascinated by every facet of the writing process. I am a proponent of visual cues and graphics at every step of the way in technical work since a picture can supply a dimension of description as powerful as the words. Creating a blend of tight logical writing with excellent graphics that clarify, educate, and describe is an interesting and gratifying experience. Other examples of technical writing on this site can be found in the TRAINING section.

 

User Guides and Operating Manuals

.User Guides and Operating Manuals are very similar to the courseware and tutorials that I have written with the exception of being interactive. It adds to the challenge to make these documents work both as a learning tool and a resource tool.

PayCapture user guide authored by larry dunlap technical writer

Sprint Foneview training manual authored by larry dunlap technical writer
technical user guide authored by larry dunlap technical writer
Imperial Wars Player Guide authored by larry dunlap game designer
The TAC Customer Service User Guide was written for the online help desk operators. There were companion pieces such as TRAINING & ONLINE HELP for them as well.
Sprint's largest customers wanted their own way to work with their large billings, especially resellers. While this served as a User Guide it was also a training manual.
Operator's Manual for the Pay Capture system. This is the Player's Guide for players of the multi-player online game discussed in various spots in this site.

System Documentation

Internal System Documentation may not seem very interesting but if you're writing them they actually can be. I'm inquisitive to a fault and love mysteries so finding all about how a system works can be interesting, especially when they are elegantly constructed.

direct billing system documentation authored by larry dunlap technical writer
pay capture system documentation authored by larry dunlap technical writing tape reject clearing system documentation authored by larry dunlap technical writer
I enjoyed documenting this system because it was the heartbeat of a custom suite of six systems. It handled all of the clock and calendar functions for all related systems in a simple and cleverly executed way.
Another nice little application in the suite that automated downloaded payments into the system with full reconciliation.
This application was built as an add-on to the suite to handle a sticky problem with automatic payments that were rejected for some reason.

 

Requirements Documentation

I am disappointed to only have one of the Systems Requirements documents left from Transamerica Assurance Corporation. I am grateful for the opportunity they gave me to learn the process of documenting a system for programming. The visio diagramming inside this document lays out the position of the application within its environment and then the final third of the document uses captured and annotated screen graphics to clearly describe how the interviewed users wanted their screens to look. My interest in graphics allowed me to describe my user interviews in actual screens, pleasing both users and developers.

Direct Billing Requirements document authored by larry dunlap technical writer
Direct Billing was one of my favorite applications. This SRD describes the reversioning process from users to developers. Despite its bland name, DB was the conductor of all the activities in the TAC application suite, working with time and decision making in clever and elegant ways.

 

Diagrams

Diagrams are useful as graphical ways to show technical data. They are a big help in documentation for technical readers and can be built to illustrate logic and environments for non-technical users with the use of art. They are also useful to the designer or developer for their own purposes in working through the development process. Here are a few diagrams demonstrating some of these uses. Diagrams at their best can be deceptively simple by clearly describing a complex process. Their are several more diagrams embedded in the technical documents in the other panes of this page.

Tabel Refresh Diagram by larry dunlap systems analyst Deployment diagram by larry dunlap systems analyst enterprise diagram by larry dunlap systems design
ODDS system logic diagram for how the cable industry data feeds refresh the network's affiliate cable systems. A topological diagram of the ODDS data system. A big picture view of the Odyssey (Hallmark) Channel Enterprise.
systems analysis logic diagrams by larry dunlap systems analyst   test plan progress diagram by larrydunlap courseware development
Several logic diagrams from the Direct Bill Server application for TAC.   A diagram built to illustrate the path of a successful Y2K test proof for in-house applications as part of workshop to create standardized test plans.
imperial wars world state diagram by larry dunlap system design imperial wars player-to-player contact logic by larry dunlap system design imperial wars database table diagram by larry dunlap system design
A look at the various states of a world from an early version of the Imperial Wars design document. A concept diagram of how players meet one another in an Imperial Wars game from the design document. An early table diagram of one of the groups of dependent tables from the Imperial Wars design document.

Online Help Systems

I learned RoboHelp while consulting for Transamerica and helped produce two online help systems for the company's intranet, one for customer service help desk, following the documentation above, and the other for use with the CASE (Computer Assisted Sales and Enrollment) legacy system. The Imperial Wars game online help system is the only current online help available for show.

imperial wars online help system authored by larry dunlap game design
Online help system for the players of the multi-player strategy role-playing game Imperial Wars. This is a live application.

 

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