RE: Formats for cross-platform documentation?

Subject: RE: Formats for cross-platform documentation?
From: "Colin Ramsden" <colin -at- ramsden -dot- info>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 00:13:38 +1000


Doesn't sound like you're looking for an expensive answer.
For the record, I'm happy to go the low-tech (and low expensive) route with
FrontPage for HTML and web production. However, this doesn't provide an
(easy) option for printed manuals.

If you wish to stick with conventional document editors and go the printed
option route, you'll need to invest in a tool that can produce print output.
Since most modern print-houses can print from (appropriately formatted) PDF
output, a tool which outputs PDF will also provide you with a printed manual

Troff and DocBook are XML technologies which can produce outputs in any
format you wish, (HTML and/or PDF and/or whatever) however, you'll need to
choose appropriate document structure and tag your data as XML compliant to
DTD or XSD standards.

If you don't know what these terms mean, (as you stated) you should try
searching for more information on the web using a search tool such as

Colin Ramsden.

-----Original Message-----
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

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

What would you guys suggest?

Thanks in advance.

Joel Konkle-Parker


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Formats for cross-platform documentation?: From: Joel Konkle-Parker

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