da Vinci User’s Guide
From 1998 to 2002 I ran a small software development company called ETS, Inc. (Extended Technology Systems,) that specialized in custom software and consumer software for handheld platforms (Apple Newton, PalmOS, WindowsCE, etc.) We were doing a lot of PalmOS development in the C language and we decided to develop a tool for designing databases and API code for PalmOS. The product was called, “da Vinci” and we needed a User’s Guide. Even though I was the CEO of a small ten-person company, I was also the only writer on the team. So, I took on the task of producing the User’s Guide.
What happened to ETS, Inc.? This was an exciting and booming business from 1998 through 2001. However, the event of 9/11 had a major impact on the market. The day before 9/11 I was turning away business since I didn’t have the resources. After 9/11 the phone stopped ringing. Our existing clients tightened their budgets and quit spending. We almost had a bundling deal with Metrowerks, but they were impacted too, and quit spending. I poured my savings into the business throughout 2002 and eventually closed our doors in September of 2002. Many good lessons were learned and it was a good run while it lasted.
The target market for da Vinci was PalmOS developers. Almost all of the PalmOS developers at the time were using Metrowerks CodeWarrior for writing and compiling C code for Palm applications. We designed da Vinci to work with the CodeWarrior environment.
As with any software application guide, especially one for developers, I focused on these major topics:
- What It Is.
- Getting Started.
- How to Use the Application.
- API Guide.
- How to Get Help.
The guide needed to be easy to read, have visual cues and screenshots, and easy to follow steps. And the API section needed to clearly define each command, command structure, parameters, expected results, and related notes.
The entire guide, as a PDF file, is available here for downloading and review. Even though this was written back in 2002, it is a good example of my technical writing experience as it relates to programming and API guides.