Choosing A Help Authoring Tool?? <Survey>

Subject: Choosing A Help Authoring Tool?? <Survey>
From: Genevieve Burt <gb_techwriter -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2000 14:55:18 -0800 (PST)

Dear TechWr-L,

I'm unexpectedly soon-to-be an author of help files!
Yaaay! Somehow I feel less prepared for this than for

I'm posting this survey to TechWR-L in the hopes that
those of you who know how to create help files can
help people like me who are brand new to the idea (and
who would like to start off on the right foot for

==Here's what I've done in my research so far:==
After combing through the archives, I did not find
sufficient discussion on what type of help I ought to
use for my type of project (Help menu help,
context-sensitive help, What's this help, F1 help,
etc.). Also, there was no convincing evidence as to
which help authoring tool to choose--I'm swimming in
the choices available for my type of project. Did you
know that there are over 46 software tools for
designing help? (According to Linda Moore at

I narrowed my options to six, reviewed the promotional
literature, and downloaded the available demos.
(Needless to say, I now have sales people breathing
down my neck via e-mail, fax, and phone.) Finally, I
have less than a week to make my decision before our
next project meeting. Can you say pressure???

==Here's my plan for you, if you'll be kind enough to
I would like to gather stats on what my fellow
colleagues are doing. I value your findings and
opinions, and they will be an integral part of my
informed decision.

That said, please e-mail me with your answers to these
questions. I will summarize and re-post for the
benefit of other help newbies. Thanks in advance!

Help Survey (11 questions)

==Background Qs==
1) How many people make up your documentation/ help
authoring team?

2) What are their functions (job titles)?

3) About what size are your projects (measure in pages
or other applicable unit)?

4)About how long does it take you to complete the help
for your project?

==Help Tool and Method Qs==
1)What help software are you using now?

2)What type(s) of help are you creating?

3)For what types of applications?

4)Are you using the help authoring tool to create
paper documentation as well? If so,
4a)What types of paper docs are you creating?

4b)In what format does your documentation start
(Word, WP, Frame, etc.)?

5)Have you tried more than one kind of help authoring
software? If so,
5a)Which ones?

5b)What is your opinion on them?

6)For those of you who are creating help which is
integrated with your product,
6a)How does your help get integrated into your

7)If you feel my questions have missed an integral
part of what makes your process work, please explain
here. Otherwise, do you have any "tried and true"
advice when it comes to the help authoring process?

Looking forward to hearing your comments,

--Genevieve W. Burt

Genevieve W. Burt
{Technical Writer}
Bachelor Controls, Inc.
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