Best tool for updating mammoth user's guide?

Subject: Best tool for updating mammoth user's guide?
From: "Cummings, Elizabeth" <CummEl -at- ncs -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 7 Aug 2002 14:54:32 -0500

Have created a monster: a 700-some page user's guide to a less-than-perfect
application, for everyone and their grandma.

With every new version of the app is a request for a new user's guide.
Sometimes, two or more versions of the app will be in production at the same
time, and during this time, I am asked to update a certain paragraph that
appears not only in every version the user's guide, but also many times in
different sections of the same user's guide.

Now, the request comes that I break down one version of a user's guide into
user tailored user's guides. For example, a "Customer" has access to only
X,Y, and Z functions of the system so does not need to know about the A
through W that a "Supervisor" does. Therefore, I should make a Customer's
Guide for every future version of the app, covering only X, Y, and Z-but
also create a Supervisor's Guide for every future version of the app,
covering only A through W.

Are you starting to feel the pain here?

While I would love to wait for the day that our application will be so user
friendly no user's guide is necessary, I doubt that day will dawn. Instead,
tell me what you all use/recommend/do not recommend as a tool that would
allow me to EFFICIENTLY and relatively EFFORTLESSLY update these tomes?

I'm thinking some sort of database would be helpful, but know nothing of
them, really. Some tool that boasted a search-and-replace mechanism that
would allow me to search for lengthy passages and replace them with possibly
lengthier ones would be a great start.

Oh, yeah-since everyone and their grandma need to access these documents, I
doubt that requiring everyone and their grandma to install an expensive
piece of software to be able to view the documents would be a popular idea.
Right now, I'm abusing the .chm format for this purpose (not my idea-I know
it's intended as an internal help mechanism.). It works fairly well from
the user's perspective, but from my perspective-the person who needs to
update all the nooks and crannies of these documents-HTML Help Workshop
doesn't cut the mustard.


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