Re: Paper Manual to Online Help - where to start?

Subject: Re: Paper Manual to Online Help - where to start?
From: "McKinney, Suzanne" <smckinney -at- eei1 -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 26 May 2004 08:57:09 -0400

Suzy Davis writes:

Firstly, sorry I forgot to mention that the manuals are currently in
Word XP, and there is budget to pay for software - I think he's just
trying prove that he's a frugal project manager.

I personally liked the PDF idea, but when I put it to my client he
agreed that it was a great one-off solution, but was outlined that he
was hoping for a solution that would easily be updateable by the users.

The staff here are not extensive Word users, and while they could open
the manuals and update or add a procedure, they probably wouldn't apply
the appropriate styles. Will the updating be any simpler in RoboHelp or
DocToHelp? After this update and conversion to online help, the
paper-based manuals will be discontinued.

A few thoughts. First, even though the "users" can easily update Word or
some other wp tool, you will still need at least an editor to fix
styles, grammar, and do the conversion, won't you? Unless someone does
that stuff for a living, he or she usually doesn't do it thoroughly or
well, in my 20-some years of experience.

Second, if they already have Word and don't use it properly, why in the
world would anyone expect them to learn anything else (especially
RoboHelp -- pretty big learning curve)?

I say go with PDFs, because you can have everything you want via
bookmarks for the TOC and cross-refs and hyperlinks created in Word.
There are many conversion tools, but I would hope that the finalization
and conversion would not be done by random "users" but by an editor.
Plus the end users will be able to print the manuals if they like
complete with page numbers and all.

Sue McKinney
Senior Programmer/Analyst
(tech writer, editor, coordinator, proofreader and whatever else is
needed!) smckinney -at- eei1 -dot- com


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