Wanted: RoboHelp Project Pothole Alerts

Subject: Wanted: RoboHelp Project Pothole Alerts
From: BlaineBachman -at- bia -dot- gov
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2000 11:24:17 -0700


I'm interested in any second opinions regarding the following situation
(for now, "find another contract" is not an option-LOL):

A small group (4) of us is preparing the online help for a new, moderately
complex, multi-module VB/Oracle-based facility management system using
RoboHelp 2000 Classic. Being a "typical" project:

1. The system functionality was not 100% defined up front (and doesn't
exist in writing in any form that will allow us to fully anticipate it)
a. Formal baselines (PDR/CDR) do not seem to exist
b. The quantity, purpose, and layout of the screens were pretty much
established by the client
2. The system is still under moderate to heavy development
3. Only informal unit testing has occurred thus far
4. We're all learning the tool - some have experience in another tool
5. We've got until May to finish the entire system (but so do the
developers!)

The client wants Help to include:

1. General descriptions of the functionality of each screen
2. "How To?" help for each process the user will accomplish
3. Context-sensitive help for the less obvious fields on each screen
4. The usual help TOC and Index

Now, working with the most complete module:

1. One of us is developing the general screen descriptions and identifying
the needed jumps to other topics/explanations
2. Two others are drafting the "How To?" help (since some of the screens
aren't functioning 100% correctly, they haven't been able to pin every step
down); it may be worth noting that one of these folks has significant
understanding of how the old system works
3. The fourth team member is identifying candidate fields that will
require context-sensitive help, but has delayed actually doing the work in
RoboHelp until the screens settle down (seems that in this case RoboHelp
wants to start over whenever the VB files change)

My questions are:

1. We think this is a valid approach, and probably the best one
considering the existing variables; do we have more than a 50-50 chance of
being right?
2. Is there a reasonable way around having to wait to do the
context-sensitive help? (Flogging the developers won't work; they
outnumber us 3 to 1)
3. Are we headed toward any nasty surprises? (Other than those you can
imagine we are already imagining)

TIA - Okay to reply off-line; I'll post a summary of any suggestions.

-Blaine





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