Multimedia Technical Communication

I've been creating a lot of multimedia content since I finished the bulk of editing for my core, in-product documentation projects: VSTO in Visual Studio 2008, VSTA 2.0, and the recently released service pack. This part is fun because we know more about what people want -- while the product is being developed, we do research to find out what customers want and how they will use it, but for the resulting implementation it's often somewhat speculative about what documentation people will need. After it ships, though, we get to find out for sure what people need by following customer questions in forums, comments on the topics on MSDN, and customer feedback bugs.

One of the things I've been doing is reading through the VSTO forum, looking for customer questions that I think a lot of people might have. To raise the visibility of the question and answer, I make a video about it and post it on the VSTO team blog. Have a look -- they're part screencast, part fantasy/noir/fiction. And they're usually less than 5 minutes long.

At the Office Developer Conference last February we talked with a lot of customers who wanted audio-only content to listen to on their commute, so we created three series of audio overviews that introduce Office development in Visual Studio: the Overview Series, the Components Series, and the Developer Series. Each series contains about 10 episodes that are about 5 minutes long.

I've also been contributing to the Video How To series on MSDN that's linked to the Visual Studio documentation. The idea behind these is that the video demonstrates a specific topic in the documentation. You can read the steps in the topic and follow along, or you can click the link to go to MSDN and watch the procedure in a video. Or, if you find the video first by using a search engine, you can follow a link from the video page to the topic to find the steps written out, copy the code, and read related information.

If you know of some mutimedia technical communication that you think is really effective, leave a comment and let me know about it!