RE: Printing multiple HTML pages at once?

Subject: RE: Printing multiple HTML pages at once?
From: "Dan Hall" <dhall -at- san-carlos -dot- rms -dot- slb -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2001 11:41:09 -0500

Hi John,

I totally agree- the users' needs should drive the process. If they
have a legitimate need for print, then I'd darn well better provide
an option for printing.

My only problem with this is that what they need (usable printed
docs) and what is offered (a print version of the HTML) are not
always the same. I always try to make the case for taking the time/
effort to appropriately format the print versions of docs that
originate as HTML, and vise versa. I don't always get my way, of
course; cost, schedule, and other considerations often come into

I guess if you don't have and can't get the time or resources to
offer a version specifically formatted for print that a printed
version of the HTML is an acceptable option. Just as a quick-and-
dirty HTML version of the printed docs is acceptable, in the
sense that it's better than nothing. But I always push for the
optimal solution - custom work for each format.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to write. I think we're
actually pretty close in our opinion on this - I just have the
luxury of more time and resources. Usually. :)


-----Original Message-----
From: jgarison -at- ide -dot- com
Subject: RE: Printing multiple HTML pages at once?

Dan et. al.,

Often it's not just a simple case of educating your users ... it's meeting
their legitimate needs.

In my situation, we have a web-based application with all online help in
HTML. Our users get page-level context sensitive help when they are sitting
in front of the application. However, our application is also pretty
complicated, and people who want to learn about the basics of what it does
and how to use it need access to something. In order to access the help,
they have to be connected to the server in order to read anything. That's
tough to do on an airplane or any other place where connectivity is an

We provide a zipped version of the help which they can use anywhere - the
search engine still works in this version. But they want more, so we are
providing some PDF files that they can print out and take with them. We're
gathering groups of related HTML files, PDF-ing them so that they only have
to print one thing to get 50 or so pages worth of relevant info on the
topic of their choice. This may be inelegant, and is certainly a poor-man's
version of single sourcing, but it works, has virtually no overhead, and
lets them know that the info they really need is available with the product.

They really need access to the info in the help, so we need to find a way to
give it to them. I remember back about 27 years ago in my first TW job - we
had an IBM 360 mainframe. It can with extensive documentation - about 50
shelf-feet worth. Everything you ever wanted to know about the system was
there, but you probably couldn't find it. The result was the same as if it
wasn't there at all. From the user's point of view "If I can't find it, it
doesn't exist".

My 2¢,


John Garison
Documentation Manager
150 Baker Avenue Extension
Concord, MA 01742


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