AuthorIT feedback

Subject: AuthorIT feedback
From: kimber_miller -at- acs-inc -dot- com
To: <kaya -at- hungryminds-inc -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2000 11:00:33 -0600

Kaya asked: "Has anyone on this list used AuthorIt? If it really works as well
as is
claimed on their website, it might be just what I need. Any feedback on it ?"

[Kimber remarked:] I began using AuthorIT the third week of December and
purchased it after 7 days of working with it. It is a fantastic product. I am
using it to create an online data dictionary to support an Oracle database
product. I will continue to use it when I develop procedures for the DBAs who
administer the database.

I believe that object-oriented tools such as this one are going to figure
prominently in our workplaces in the coming years. Re-usability is truly
possible, and using an object approach forces me to organize information with
thought and efficiency. It also forces me to create a couple of sample
approaches to data presentation and then consult with my prospective audience as
to the design that is most useful. It would involve too much effort to go to a
complete draft and then have to reorganize after audience analysis. While an
object development tool can't make one a better writer, it can force one to
organize more efficiently.

That said--AIT has an enormous learning curve at this time. It took me 2 weeks
and some wonderful support to become comfortable, and I'm still finding things
that I've done that I didn't know I did that exasperate me later. It puts as
much power in the developer's hands as Frame does when compared to Word. AIT's
object approach represents a total paradigm shift, which can be the bulk of the
learning issue.

The online documentation is excellent at presenting concepts and describing most
functions. There is, however, virtually NO procedural documentation. I am told
that the procedure manual is in development.

(NOTE: If you EVER wondered at task-based versus function-based documentation
for end users, try to learn this product by following the documentation alone! )

The lack of procedures and a FAQ forced me to rely heavily on the user list and
on the support dude--Paul Trotter. Paul has been great, turning around questions
and examining my files within 24 hours, despite the 16 hours of time/date
difference between me and Australia.

AIT is incredibly powerful--truly single-sourcing documents, HTML, HTML Help,
and WinHelp. Because it generates all three media, one has certain limitations.
If I want to have the first row of my tables shaded, I can either shade only the
text, or I can alter the tables in Word, after I generate.
If your documentation is well organized, you should have few issues importing
your current Word documents into AIT.
There is a versioning tool that can be quite helpful, although I have not needed
to use it, yet.

AIT requires that the user be well-versed in general technical documentation
principles and in many of the quirks of WinHelp and HTML development. You can
get through it without this knowledge, but it can help you avoid silly mistakes
or 'well, duh" moments. (I've had many of those)
With the AIT documentation in its current state, I cannot recommend it for
beginners in the industry. Generalized TW experience provides much of the
pre-requisite knowledge necessary to truly master the tool and to recognize its

I think it's a fantastic tool, and I'm glad that I've taken the time to master
(most of) it. I STRONGLY urge you to download the eval copy AND the demo, and to
print out the "Concepts" section of their online documentation. Read the
concepts, do the tutorial, then play with the demo. I played before I read or
tutorialed, and got much confused.

I hope you find AIT and this info useful.


The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but
whether it's the same problem you had last year.

--John Foster Dulles

Kimber Miller
kimber_miller -at- acs-inc -dot- com
Affiliated Computer Services
Dallas, Texas


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