I’m always on the lookout for new ideas about how to present technical content to our users. One of the award-recipients from the Puget Sound STC Competition had some interesting aspects to it. The project was submitted by a team at Microsoft and featured a series of posters that provide a detailed overview to Microsoft services. Topics include Hyper-V, Remote Desktop Service, Active Directory, and SharePoint Server.
According to the creators, the posters have been very popular. The centerpiece of the posters is a visual description of the technologies. They show process flow, explain concepts, and provide helpful tips. You can download the Hyper-V poster to see the depth and breadth of information. Some of the posters are also available in print form.
The team also created a Windows 8 app to make it easier to collect and distribute the apps. Server Posterpedia uses the new metro-style design and it available from the Windows Store. It runs on all Windows 8 devices including the RT tablets. You can find it in the Store by typing its name.
The home page lets you select a poster by clicking or tapping its tile. Once a map is loaded, you can pan with mouse or touch. There is a slider for magnifying the image. Some of the posters have been modified to have links to associated web-based documentation. Gold borders are your indication that an area has a link. For example, the Architecture section show below links to the Tech Net article on Hyper-V Architecture.
The features bar at the bottom of the UI has links to the major section of the currently displayed poster. The team has set it up so anyone creating a poster at Microsoft can have it added to Server Posterpedia.
I’ve seen a lot of complex software systems that could benefit from the visual approach used in these Microsoft posters. The Windows App also seems like a good way to manage the distribution of a large number of posters.