Re: need to compile a wish list

Subject: Re: need to compile a wish list
From: Chantel Brathwaite <cnbrath -at- cbel -dot- cit -dot- nih -dot- gov>
To: puppy vaugn <puppy_vaugn -at- moonman -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2000 15:47:07 -0400

Puppy Vaughn is a new (and lone) tech writer for a start-up company. Puppy is
asking Techwr-l for advice on which software applications to use to create
documentation. Here is the job description:

> " i work at a start up company that is about a year
> and a half old. there is no internal documentation to speak of. and i am
> the department (well, at least they recognized the fact that they needed
> *someone*).
> so, i will be preparing graphics, converting to HTML, making PDFs, creating
> web pages, editing, creating manuals, white papers, online help (internally
> and externally -- we are an internet company).... let's see. did i leave
> anything off the list?
> pretty much anything and everything. but only a five things at a time =)"

Chantel replies:

Well Puppy -- I'll take a stab at it --

Most people on this list seem to use Word or Frame. Word is more popular and
can be easy to use for short, single file documents. However Word can be a
major pain. There are many work-arounds, but it may require some digging. Word
can interface with lots of third party software. Frame is not as popular, but
in my experience is the better product. It takes a little more time to learn
Frame, but the results are well worth it. I'd probably choose Frame if all
other factors are even. I'm not sure what platform you are working on, but
Frame also allows you to port documents pretty easily between PC and Unix
platforms (and maybe Mac?) so if that is important to you, Frame is a winner

*For graphics, I'd probably choose Illustrator and Photoshop. Corel is ok --
but I found Photoshop to be more intuitive.

*You may need a screen capture program; there are some free ones available -- if
you are working on a Unix platform, I really like xv which is shareware. Others
on this list might have some thoughts about which screen capture program they
prefer. Screen capture programs are usually pretty affordable -- and ALT+PRT
SCREEN works really well for generic screen captures.

*I haven't converted a Frame document to HTML, but I think most people use Web
Works -- I'm sure others will have suggestions. By the way, I received a note
from a list member -- you can use RoboHelp with a Frame document, but it is a
little more laborious than Web Works Publisher or ForeHelp (reportedly -- I
haven't used them).

*As far as the PDFs, you'll need Adobe Acrobat to convert the files.

*I think you are on target -- a zip drive/zip disks probably would be helpful to
you as you create your archives.

Another thought -- I don't know if they are budgeting for the next year -- but
if they are, you might want to ask about classes and books -- if you are new,
you'll might need them to give you a framework for working with the tools or for
managing documentation projects.

Wishing you the best!


ps -- If you decide to go with Word (or if you are roped in :) -- I'd probably
use Photoshop/Illustrator/Powerpoint for the graphics, RoboHelp for the online
help, and Adobe Acrobat for the PDFs. If you go with Word -- get Word 2000 --
converting the file to PDF seems to be much smoother than with Word 97.

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