Re: Online Documentation

Subject: Re: Online Documentation
From: Tom Murrell <trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 2 Nov 2000 12:30:07 -0800 (PST)


--- bogucki91030 -at- yahoo -dot- com wrote:
> We are considering putting our documentation online.
>
[SNIP]
>
> Would any of you mind sharing your ideas on how to
> structure it, some common pitfalls, etc.
>
> I don't know if we should do just FAQ's or the whole
> doc. Also, how is it done? In HTML? XML? PDF's (excuse
> my ignorance!)
>
> Do customers have some kind of password access to it?
> etc.

There are so many unknowns in what you're doing that it is hard to know
what would be best for you. Do you just want to make your existing
files available electronically? If so, creating a page of links to the
source document that requesters could download might meet your needs.
It's also a minimal amount of work.

But if you're anticipating people reading/using your documentation from
the screen, then you might want to look at reformatting it into HTML.
You can also do PDF's, of course, which is another quick and dirty way
of doing it, but you still have documents that were formatted for an
8.5 x 11 display (or larger) being displayed on a computer monitor that
will either make the full page difficult, if not impossible, to read or
require the user to use scroll bars and buttons to see information that
is 'off the screen', either right or below.

We use a tool that converts documents into HTML and offer users a
choice: either read the HTML pages or download a zip executable that is
a copy of the document in native format. And we have a rolling project
to review and reformat documents so that they are more easily
screen-readable. But that was our solution to our problems and might
not be what you're looking for.

And since we don't allow access from outside the firewall, we don't
have to worry about password protection of the documentation.

Hope that gives you something to work with.

=====
Tom Murrell
Lead Technical Writer
Alliance Data Systems
Columbus, Ohio
mailto:trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com
Personal Web Page - http://home.columbus.rr.com/murrell/

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