How to use Evernote and Postachio for Product Documentation

I posted before Christmas about using Evernote and MohioMap to map out the product you’re building.

I’ve taken it a further in this post. In this post I’ll explain how to use Evernote and Postachio for Product Documentation.

So let’s get started.

In the last post I outlined the notebook and note structure I was using. Here is the stack “XProduct” and notes Capability 1 and Capability 2 shown in MohioMap.

Stack and Notebook in MohioMap

These two notebooks represent a core Capability within your product. For example, the ability to create a new object of some type.

The notes within the notebook represent the features and associated information. For example, create an object, delete an object, move an object. In this post I’ll be looking at using notes for a couple of different purposes from documentation to technical overview

Here are the notes shown in MohioMap with associated tags.

MohioMap showing notes and tags

One communication aspect that many companies are missing is a technical overview of the product and system. It’s often informally communicated and exists as tacit knowledge in the heads of the people that work there. There are sometimes bits and pieces of that information but rarely is it all brought together in a single place.

By extracting as much of this tacit knowledge as possible and making it more explicit it’s possible to start building a detailed description of the product you’re building.

In this example I’ve used a note with sections for the kind of information you may want to share. I’ve assumed that some of the information is not even stored in Evernote and may exist in external systems like a Wiki or diagram tools like Lucid Charts. This is shown as a link in the note.

 

Feature 2 Technical Overview note

By using a single system like Evernote, it’s possible to bring your team’s understanding in to a single place. This will allow for greater collaboration around a common understanding of what the team are building.

Product Documentation

I’ve also added a note for Product documentation. Two in fact. One for a Quick Start Guide and one for Detailed Product Documentation. Here is an example of Feature 2 – Quick Start Guide in Evernote.

Feature 2 Quick Start Guide

 

By having the notes next to the product and architecture notes helps to build a central place for related information. If you’re updating the product information then it may make sense to update the product documentation at the same time.

Now that you have documentation in Evernote then it’s probably important to get them in front of your customers.

This is where Postachio can be useful. Postachio is an awesome app that allows you to create a blog from your Evernote notes. In essence it turns Evernote in to a Content Management System (CMS) and blog platform. Powerful stuff indeed.

The first step is to sign up to Postachio and add the relevant details. After giving Postachio access to Evernote you will get the chance to choose a notebook to sync to.

Here is where my structure of Stacks fails as Postachio does not support syncing with Stacks. So in this instance I’ve chosen one of my capability folders in the stack.

Details of Postachio Site

After filling in your details and the site details your new Evernote powered blog is ready for use.

There is also an option to make the site private (via password).

Postachio Password Protect

This could be useful for internal information sharing. For example, an internal blog or wiki.

Postachio also supports Dropbox so you could use that instead of Evernote to provide the content too.

To get a post to appear on the site tag the associated note in Evernote with “published” and then sync your Evernote account. The note will then appear on the site! It’s that simple.

You keep notes off-line by simply not tagging them with “published”. Super simple. If you want to remove a published post just remove the “published” tag and sync – the post is then removed.

The notes will appear on the website in “created by” date. The notes may show in an order you are not expecting. You can change the date by editing the note in Evernote.

Edit Evernote meta data

Once your site is ready it will be published online. You can also add your own custom domain too.

Here are two examples of the same site with different themes applied.

Product documentation online

 

And theme 2

Product Documentation Different Skin

As you can see it’s possible to create a basic central place for product information using Evernote. It’s also possible to use Postachio to then publish these notes to the public or a private community.

As you can share Evernote notes with your colleagues, and chat in real time, you can see how Evernote can become a powerful way of collaborating around content.

Of course you could then take this a step further by using IFTTT or Zapier to automate Evernote further. For example when you tag a note in Evernote it could then go live to a WordPress site. Or when you create a new note an announcement could fire in Salesforce Chatter. The options and workflow are pretty staggering.

By thinking through the workflow it’s possible to use Evernote for a great number of communication opportunities and challenges.

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If you like my posts about Evernote, then you’ll love Brett Kelly’s awesome Evernote Essentials.

It’s a cracking book to get you started using Evernote.