In November, I began an adventure with a new tool, readme.io. At least, new for me. I like to think all tools add something to your portfolio of skills. I enjoy learning new tools. Mostly, I like to find the unique benefit. So when I was hired by a small startup with only 14 people, I was eager to discuss what they wanted me to deliver and what tool I would use.
The company was in stealth mode. For those who never heard this term, it means that as far as the world knows, they don’t exist. Instead, they are preparing for what they hope will be a loud entrance.
This was the case with this tiny startup that had been planning a major announcement for six months.
During that time, they focused on creating a viable product that they would bring to market, along with a fully developed website, on the day their company was featured in several media outlets that focus on hi-tech and specifically on cyber security in the field of authorization.
My mission, I was told, was to deliver “mature” documentation. I was handed virtually nothing other than a user name and a link to the platform, and a tool that I had never heard of. In my experience, tech writers are usually consulted. And they get to pick the best options for the tasks they are given. In my case, there were no tech writers, no documentation plan. And the tool was picked by developers.
It was, I have to say, a bit of a shock to work with readme.io. For the most part, I am used to tools such as RoboHelp and Flare and though I try not to be a “tool-snob”, I have to admit, I’m used to…more. For someone who worked to create hyperlinks back in the early days of help authoring, it was still a bit of a shock to have to manually update a hypertext link to make it function properly.
And I must admit, I’ve gotten used to the concept of having a heading 3 option in my documentation. Not all products can be documented successfully with only a heading 1 and a heading 2. Alas, readme.io only allows for a “book” and a “page” in the TOC. And I found this to be one of the hardest limitations. I’m proud to say that I met my deadline. On-time, I delivered a very mature-looking help file, on time and more extensive than expected.
Only I saw the flaws in the document structure and only I knew how much extra time it took to accomplish simple documentation elements such as links. Within a few weeks, the company was convinced that readme was indeed not the ideal product for the required task and so, on to Gitbook.