Instant Software Documentation with ISOLDE

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					Instant Software Documentation with ISOLDE
Increasingly, new software doesn’t come with
bulky paper manuals or, if it does, there isn’t a
copy for every user on a site or group licence.
Online help has become an essential feature of
software products.

Unfortunately, however, the production of
online help tends to come at the end of the
software development process, when it is too
late for a technical writer to provide feedback
that would improve usability.

ISOLDE is a new integrated software and online
documentation environment that automates
the production of online help. ISOLDE:
• integrates documentation production into
  the software development lifecycle
• reduces tedious aspects of a technical
  writer’s job, and
• allows for easy documentation updates and

This, in turn, shortens time to market for          ISOLDE is a new integrated software and online documentation environment. that automates the production of online help.
software products.
                                                    interesting and creative aspects of the job,                     Even prototype versions of a software product
Generate text automatically                         such as writing introductions, tips and                          can incorporate online help because ISOLDE
                                                    warnings, or other context-specific informa-                     creates documentation as soon as some of the
ISOLDE is concerned with documentation that         tion which can be added to the automatically                     software specifications, such as task models,
helps users carry out particular procedures         generated text.                                                  are available. As the software specifications
with the software, such as saving a file or                                                                          change during development, as they inevitably
sorting a list into alphabetical order.             Easy documentation updates                                       do, ISOLDE can easily incorporate changes into
                                                                                                                     online help, making documentation less effort
Normally technical writers write these                                                                               to update and maintain.
                                                    ISOLDE was developed by researchers at CSIRO
procedures when the software is complete. The       and Calvin College, USA, and is partially funded
writing process is time-consuming and                                                                                ISOLDE could be developed for any written
                                                    by the US Office of Naval Research.
tedious, with the writer using the software                                                                          language, an important consideration for
package and recording what to do when, and                                                                           exporters, and be adapted to suit a particular
                                                    ISOLDE incorporates natural language
how the computer responds.                                                                                           house style for documentation.
                                                    technologies, artificial intelligence and
                                                    human-computer interaction. ISOLDE ‘writes’
With ISOLDE, the basics of the process can be                                                                        ISOLDE is presently in prototype stage. It is
                                                    procedural instructions by automatically
automated and implemented very early in                                                                              being tested through collaboration with an
                                                    extracting information from software design
software development using inputs from                                                                               industry partner, Wilcom, an Australian
                                                    models and tools such as:
software specifications. The result is that the                                                                      company that produces software for embroi-
                                                    • task models
bulk of the procedural documentation can be                                                                          dery. Wilcom’s software translates embroidery
                                                    • interaction diagrams
produced in a much shorter time. This means                                                                          designs into stitching patterns for industrial
                                                    • behaviour models and specifications
technical writers can focus on the more                                                                              sewing machines. CSIRO is exploring how
                                                    • system and user actions.
Instant software documentation with ISOLDE

ISOLDE could automatically generate docu-
mentation for Wilcom’s software in many
languages for local and export markets.

CSIRO is conducting other research in natural
language technologies that will support
information delivery customised to a particular
user or group of users. If you would like more
information about ISOLDE or these technolo-
gies and their application in industry, please
contact us.

                                                  For further information contact:

                                                  Dr Cécile Paris
                                                  Project Leader
                                                  Intelligent Interactive Technology

                                                  Phone: (02) 9325 3160
                                                  Fax: (02) 9325 3200

                                                  CSIRO Mathematical and Information
                                                  Locked Bag 17
                                                  NORTH RYDE NSW 1670


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Description: Instant Software Documentation with ISOLDE