Dozuki: A new way to write how-to manuals

August 18, 2011 Site News — eric

I have a big announcement to make. For the first time ever, iFixit is branching out from our core business of selling parts and tools. We’re going to start selling software—the same software that we use to run iFixit. This is something that astute observers may have expected from the development, and success, of Make: Projects.

User manuals are stuck in the 20th century. Even the best manuals are still distributed as static PDFs. Service technicians are often stuck with documentation that is months, if not years, out of date. Users hate IKEA-style manuals with vague instructions, confusing graphics, and no photos.

We started iFixit with the idea that there was a better way—that useful documentation could help people do amazing things.

Our intuitive, step-by-step repair manuals changed the world. Millions of people have fixed their own electronics using iFixit’s manuals—making it the most popular service documentation platform ever created.

Today, we are announcing Dozuki: the software behind iFixit’s manuals. We’re taking the site that you all know and love, and turning the technology behind it into software products that we’re going to sell to manufacturers. Dozuki has two products, Guidebook and Answers. Check it out at dozuki.com, and let me know what you think.

Guidebook makes step-by-step instructions come alive.

Guidebook is a modern procedural documentation platform. Guidebook makes it easy for anyone to create how-to instructions or publish service documentation for complex devices. Every manual is available online, as downloadable PDFs, through dedicated mobile apps like iFixit’s iOS app—or through custom API applications. It’s simple for technicians to suggest changes, so manuals consistently get better over time.

Answers transforms conversations into archived wisdom.

Answers is enterprise-grade Q&A for experts. Answers is a structured tool for focusing expert conversations into a useful (and searchable) knowledge base. Answers gives companies the ability to make their products a hub for knowledge exchange.

Building expert communities

iFixit won top online community this year at South by Southwest (SXSW). This announcement makes their expertise at building communities available to manufacturers of all sizes. Dozuki isn’t just a content management system—it’s a community platform that empowers companies to give their expert customers a voice. Companies that allow their customers to extend their documentation will see consumers flock to sustainable, durable products. By joining the community, manufacturers have the opportunity to set a positive tone, provide leadership, and increase long-term demand.

Workgroup collaboration

Dozuki also targets enterprises needing collaborative workgroup tools. Imagine improving the productivity of distributed teams by giving people access to domain expertise already available within the company. Dozuki can transform existing procedures and support documents into a framework for social interaction.

Proven solution

Dozuki’s powerful framework has powered iFixit onto Inc’s list of the 5000 fastest growing companies for the past three years. iFixit is now one of the largest Apple parts companies in the world, hosting complete service manuals for every major Apple product. iFixit’s popular gadget teardowns receive millions of views and drive consistent e-commerce growth.

We partnered with O’Reilly to bring Make Magazine’s exciting do-it-yourself projects into the digital realm. Their successful Guidebook community, Make: Projects, allows users to post their own DIY projects alongside Make’s professional articles.

Dozuki is in private beta now and will be launching publicly this fall. If you’re interested, head over to dozuki.com and add yourself to the beta invite list. We’ll be inviting members of the community to the beta early.

What does this all mean?

We’re very excited about what this means for iFixit. We’re constantly looking for ways to continue investing in the site and hire more engineers without running advertisements on iFixit. We’re as committed as ever to building a free online repair manual for everything, and if Dozuki is successful, we’ll have additional resources to throw at making the world’s best repair manual. As always, we’re committed to making iFixit the best that it can be, and I welcome your feedback and feature suggestions.

8 Comments

  1. Any idea if you will be offering education pricing? thanks in advance.

    Marco

    Comment by marco — August 18, 2011 @ 9:15 am

  2. This is great new. Yes, any pricing for EDUs?

    Comment by jke — August 18, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

  3. Marco, jke, we’re certainly open to talking about that. It would depend on what you’re trying to do with it. Can you send an email to sales@dozuki.com with what interests you most?

    Comment by kyle — August 18, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

  4. What antispam tools are built in? I’d love to set up an open Guidebook site for simple DIY projects, but am totally not in the mood to have to police every change to make sure it wasn’t submitted by a spammer. I had an open wiki once and it was promptly filled with ads. They uploaded photos and everything.

    Very interested in the Community edition!

    Comment by Robert B — August 18, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

  5. As someone who has been involved in the design development and deployment of knowledge based systems (aka “in da olden daze” as Expert Systems) for 28 years, across a range of industries, I see the this as exciting development potentially creating a huge repository of applications but that not only teach but when implemented within the iFixit philosophical structure continue to learn ending one of the great weak spots of KBS stale knowledge base.

    Comment by Fred Simkin — August 18, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

  6. @Robert, for Guidebook, we have a system called Patrol which helps set minimum reputation thresholds for automatic edits to take place. Changes below this threshold (which can vary from 1 to admin) require someone else to approve an edit. If you would like to read more about the system: http://www.ifixit.com/Info/Patrolling_Manager. For answers, we have a couple active moderation actions that community members can use to handle spam. Some more detailed explanations about these moderation tools is here: http://www.ifixit.com/Info/Answers_Moderation. We also are working on new ways to develop additional antispam tools, and will be strongly relying on feedback of Dozuki clients to ensure we are making every effort to minimize spam. Feel free to shoot me an email Collin@ifixit.com if you have further questions.

    Comment by collin — August 18, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

  7. This sounds very, very promising. I ran corporate technical communications departments for years, taught techcomm for a bit both in the classroom and online, and am now an independent web developer specializing in techcomm, and have long wanted a development platform like this. I really look forward to checking it out.

    Best of luck to you.

    David

    Comment by David Fenton — August 25, 2011 @ 7:12 pm

  8. You may already know this, but the saw in the illustration is a ryoba, not a dozuki. It just seems a little weird.

    Comment by Ben — September 9, 2011 @ 6:25 pm


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