Last week .NET Rocks mentioned a good idea in passing: start a screencast tool like Camtasia before you do a software install. Michael Learned, told the story of a client that asked him to take screen shots of every step in the installation of Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server. Carl Franklin commented “What a great idea to throw Camtasia on there and record the whole process.”
It would be better if the installation process were scripted and not just recorded, but sometimes that’s not practical. Sometimes clicking a few buttons is absolutely necessary or at least far easier than writing a script. And even if you think your entire process is automated with a script, a screencast might be a good idea. It could record little steps you have to do in order to run your script, details that are easily forgotten.
Another way to use this idea would be to have one person do a practice install on a test server while recording the process. Then another person could document and script the process by studying the video. This would be helpful when the person who knows how to do the installation lacks either the verbal skills to explain the process or the scripting skills to automate it.