In keeping with the tradition of looking back at the year that’s passing, this seems like a good time to note some changes that have started appearing in AX documentation, and offering a few thoughts that put those changes into perspective.

We’re starting to change the way we write procedural content so that instead of describing a set of steps that walk you through the completion of a single task, we’re showing how one task is often part of a larger business process as shown in this example. We believe that approach will make it clearer how AX can contribute to your overall business success.

We’ve also begun using diagrams that show where a procedure fits into a larger process that might comprise a number of procedures. However, the effort to identify instances where we can convey information more effectively by using graphics in addition to, or instead of, straight text is still in its infancy. So look for us to be using more graphics and diagrams in the future. Until those examples become more widely available, you can see examples of existing graphics on this Pinterest page.

We’ve also tried a new approach to writing conceptual information, using a question-and-answer format that we think will help provide some context to the kind of information that’s useful – and sometimes critical – to know before you start working through a process. You can see an example here. We believe the new approach places a greater emphasis on relationships of one process to another, and the relationship between AX and the successful completion of your organization’s business processes.

In our new task topics, we’re working to emphasize the relationship of one procedure to a larger process. And the Q&A format for conceptual information is intended to help users understand the broader implications of their actions in AX, beyond the steps necessary to complete a procedure. Why does a process have to be done at a specific time? What are the implications of one selection over another in a parameter form? What configuration settings will be difficult to change a month from now and why?

While that information was often included in our existing content, the changes we’re making are intended to convey that information with less text, and greater clarity, than we’ve achieved before. But saying that is our goal doesn’t mean we’ve realized it yet. To that end, we’re looking for your reactions to our work.

You can give us feedback by using the Comments link in any topic in the Help that’s installed with AX. You can also rate topics and enter comments on the content that’s posted to TechNet and MSDN – or on this blog post – and you can send us email with any thoughts you’d care to share using the AX documentation comments mailbox (adocs@microsoft.com). A recent blog post also outlined ways that you can send feedback to us.

We wish you a successful year in 2014 and we look forward to hearing more, from more of you, in the coming year and the years beyond. Happy New Year everyone!