Formats for cross-platform documentation?

Subject: Formats for cross-platform documentation?
From: "Joel Konkle-Parker" <Joel -dot- J -dot- Konkle-Parker -at- nasa -dot- gov>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2004 13:00:51 -0400

I've been tasked with writing a manual for a piece of in-house software. It will be somewhat large, many pages, reference material, tutorials, etc. The software itself is cross-platform (Windows, UNIX, etc.), so the documentation should be as well. Also, I don't have access to a web server at the moment, so this will have to be distributed (electronically for sure, maybe by printing it out as well).

This means lots of text, lists, and screenshots, with indices and tables of contents.

I've started doing it in HTML, which I like because it's universal and flexible, but without a server to process it, it means writing many many pages and managing all the links between them by hand.

Microsoft Word documents can be written and read (through OpenOffice), so that's an option, but it seems inflexible.

PDFs are out, I don't have an easy way to create them (I'm on an SGI).

I've heard about formats that are specifically created for this sort of thing (troff, DocBook, what are those?), but I don't know anything about them.

What would you guys suggest?

Thanks in advance.

Joel Konkle-Parker


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