Translatable/modifiable help files

Subject: Translatable/modifiable help files
From: "Van Laan, Krista" <KVanlaan -at- verisign -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 12 Jul 2002 13:47:56 -0700

Does anyone have any experience with preparing help files for
translation or modification by another party?

Historically, we have allowed affiliates or partners
to take our HTML files and translate or localize them for
their end users. We recently started using Robohelp for online
help. Before Robohelp, we had a pile of regular HTML files that
were linked to the Help button, and it was a simple job to open
them and work on the text. We haven't yet given the affiliates
the new Robohelp versions for translations.

One of the writers in my group thinks Robohelp output files might be
impossible for affiliates to work with because of the indexing and
TOC, and she thinks we should tell them to buy Robohelp themselves,
translate the files, and regenerate everything. I don't want to require our
affiliates to buy Robohelp; I just want them to be able to
translate the HTML output as they have before. I thought it could be
done without generating a new TOC or index, but there may well be
a lot of problems I hadn't foreseen.

I've also been thinking about using Webworks for online
documentation and help, since we have FrameMaker source files.
The writer thinks Webworks might be even more unusable for affiliates
than Robohelp is because of the way it creates links in addition to
the TOC/indexing situation.

If I do have to ask affiliates to buy Robohelp, then I'm locked into
that product for a long time, since it would be unreasonable to ask them
to change products whenever we felt like it.
But if my original thought was correct -- that they can modify existing
HTML help files without regenerating, and without worrying about any
links or HTML tags -- then it won't matter what the source is.

I'd appreciate any advice.


Krista Van Laan
Director of Technical Communications
VeriSign, Inc.
487 E. Middlefield Rd. Mountain View, CA 94043
tel: (650) 426-5158 fax: (650) 426-5195

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