Single Sourcing

Subject: Single Sourcing
From: Paul Hanson <PHanson -at- Quintrex -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 09:27:57 -0600

<delurking>
I'm on digest.

I disagree that conditional text is a requirement for single-sourcing. I
disagree that you cannot use a RoboHELP project to create a printed manual.
Like Jessica Nealon, creating a printed manual from RH is a requirement of
my job. I had to find a way to do it.

There are a couple of RH projects where I will be creating multiple manuals
from the same RH project. Your mileage may vary. It works for me though and
I am currently building manuals from my 69 RH projects in this way. I think
the key is to break your information into chunks by putting them in
different documents.

I have three types of documents in a RH project. First, there is a *.doc.
This file contains overview information. Second is a *_context.doc, which
contains field-by-field information. Third, is a *_context_print.doc, which
contains the field-by-field information formatted for the printed manual.
When I create the content for the *_context_print.doc files, I cut and paste
from the corresponding *_context.doc file, then run macros that kill the
page breaks, remove the footnotes that the hcw.exe uses to create topics,
kill the page breaks and converts any tables to text [for pop-up
definitions, I keep field information in a 3" table. A macro automatically
converts the table to text." ] I am not changing content in the
*_context_print.doc files. I could see an argument that this "breaks" single
sourcing because I have the same content in the RH project. However, since I
am not changing any content, I am not maintaining two documents. The sole
purpose of the *_context_print.doc documents are to be a container for the
field-by-field text that is reformatted. I had to do this because running
the macros on the *_context.doc files breaks the online help.

I set the order in the [FILES] section of my .hpj file one time and don't
have to adjust that order unless a new document is added by using the "Set
Document Order" function in RH. This will set the order in which RH will
generate a Word document. You are not reprocessing or importing anything.
You are working only with RH and Word.

Then I go to RH's Generate Printed Documentation window. I de-select the
*_context.doc files and create a Word document.

I copy and paste that text into a new Word document <based on a template
that has my standard title page and my headers and footers set up>. I page
through my document to look for odd page breaks, but I *DON'T* change the
text.

I think this is single-sourcing through RH. I am using the same content and
creating multiple formats. I take my Word doc, generate a PDF of it and I
have a manual. I can hook this PDF into my online Help as a hyperlink so
users can get a printed version of the help.

As far as writing style, I write generically. I don't mention page numbers.
I don't mention anything specific to print or online formats.I refer to
sections that will be hyperlinked to in online and a cue to go to the TOC in
the printed doc. I don't write "Refer to the section on the next page" or
"Refer to page 72". Write "Refer to Gadget Maintenance section for more
information" where "Gadget Maintenance" is a hyperlink in online and a TOC
entry in the manual. To break up big topics, I use mid-topic IDs in Heading
3 style that show up in my TOC.

This is my process in a short email post to the list. There are details that
I have left out that are specific to my situation. I am on the digest
version of the list. Again, what I do may or may not be applicable to you -
your mileage may vary. However, I am using RoboHELP and Word to create
printed manuals and online Help from the same source Word docs.

Paul Hanson
Technical Writer
Quintrex Documentation Team
Quintrex Data Systems
http://www.quintrex.com

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