RE: Technical Documentation solutions?

Subject: RE: Technical Documentation solutions?
From: "Sean Brierley" <sbri -at- haestad -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 26 Aug 2002 15:54:10 -0400

Honestly, 6 months?

Give it up.

Seriously. Get some documents written, work done, and then leave. It's
be poor management to have a contractor blow in, spend 6 months
revamping the workflow, and then leaving, with everybody else having to
pick up the pieces and limp along.

No personal offense intended.

UPS R&D? Yes, my info is a decade old, but the Danbury facility, if it
is still there, used FrameMaker.

You miss my point with PowerPoint. What I am suggesting goes to your
single-source comment. That is, getting away from authoring in
PowerPoint and Word and Visio and then producing deliverables. But,
authoring content in one place and then delivering to various audiences.
I was wondering if you authored your content in an XML tool, FrameMaker,
Word, whatever, you could then deliver PDF or HTML because delivering
PPT files from a single-sourcing workflow, if PPT is a requirement,
would be tough. But, my thought goes on to consider other things that
are embedded in the workflow, like Visio.

As for the static or printed doc, HTML, PDF, and XML can be static, too.
Is your content _really_ the kind that can intelligently update itself?
If not, then there are hurdles to overcome beyond online versus print.
Really, it is not the tools that are causing the failure to keep docs
current (okay, it sounds like this online thing is hindering it). It is
resource management that is causing the gaff.

In any event, Goober put it better than I. Figure out what your
customers want and need, what talent you have in house, and what
resources and money are available, before looking for a solution.



Sean Brierley
Software Documentation Specialist
Haestad Methods
203-805-0572 (voice)
203-597-1488 (fax)

-----Original Message-----
From: Manley Clifford (GFD1CEM) [mailto:GFD1CEM -at- ups -dot- com]
Sean & Goober - Excellent! Thanks for taking the time to discuss this.

> The R&D tech writing team and engineers in Danbury used to use Frame
UNIX and Mac, so >
> maybe some FrameMaker still exists.

I am a newbie contractor here - is this a reference to a UPS team? I
ask my boss as well.

> Powerpoint is an issue. IMO, it's a dead-end that narrows your
Can you deliver HTML
> or PDF presentations, instead?

Yes - I think can get them to do .pdf, if you are suggesting they can
the artifact in Powerpoint and save it as a pdf - then yeah, they would
no problem with that.


>Each TOC item could be a topic without XML; that's a traditional WWP
approach with
>FrameMaker. FWIW, if your traditional user guides, with screen captures
steps, are never
>up to date, your problem is with resource planning and management more
it is with tools
>like MS Word. If you do not get a handle on these issues, you'll
to have them in a
>FM+WWP or database environment.

I really think the issue is with frustration here; we have a web
but to find a doc you have to search for a document number or words in
title or topic - and that sometimes hard to predict if you didn't write
doc. I am thinking SharePoint so we can search for any word or phrase
anywhere in the doc, and so that we can start building some dynamic
kept on our server, and just put a link on the corporate web.


>Master docs is broken. Visio has issues with PDF/PostScript output.
Before you move
>forward, I'd check whether management will give up their familiarity
comfort with
>Microsoft's generalist office toolset.

I would suppose that FM7 and WWP would be huge change - and since I am
on a
six-month contract the solution has to be both something we can
implement in
that time AND they can support when I am gone.


To me a static or printed doc is worthless - as
it is outdated within hours and therefore can't be trusted.

>I see bunches of mixed signals here . . ..

No kidding! I only have a vague idea where I want to go; accurate,
online docs that my people will want to take the time to update - how to
there I haven't a clue!


Thanks, man! Your ideas and comments really help.

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