Re: Customizable user guide?

Subject: Re: Customizable user guide?
From: Peter Gold <peter -at- knowhowpro -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2005 10:32:58 -0500


Reader 7 can't do all the things you suggest.

On Jul 6, 2005, at 2:36 AM, Art Campbell wrote:

I believe I'd use two tools in Acrobat 7. Baseline would be a document=20
delivered in a .PDF created with Acrobat 7, and with Commenting Enabled.=20
Which allows the customers/users to add their own comments,
annotations, graphics, files, etc. to the .pdf. with (free) Reader 7.
Including adding comments that say "We don't use this feature."

The second tool would be to tell the customers how to modify the
baseline .pdf with the full version of Acrobat, with which they could
remove sections that document features they don't use. Or, if you're
feeling entreprenurial, offer to customize their doc for them... for a

Re-engineering the document in PDF, even with full Acrobat, can't/won't update ToC entries, pagination, cross-references, etc.


Perhaps I'm misunderstanding, but it seems that each installation is going to be quite customized, and the expectation is that the installer has the responsibility of re-engineering the information base for the individual installation. IMO, this requires a high degree of skill with whatever tools are chosen for the task.

Word has fields that can manage separate files almost like a book tool, without the danger of failure that's well-known in master documents. However, this does require great expertise.

Perhaps someone can suggest a data-driven publishing solution in which the installer indicates the installed components and stored notes, and the application performs the operations needed to create a PDF.

You can smooth the manual effort with templates and stored content components, but a skilled author is needed to perform the process.


Peter Gold
KnowHow ProServices

On 7/5/05, Goldstein, Joan <jgoldstein -at- connected -dot- com> wrote:
One of my deliverables for the next release is to create a sort of
template/boilerplate for a user guide that a customer can use to create
a customized version of the document. Because our product has a lot of
features that customers can turn on or off before they install the
software on an end-user's machine, we want to provide them with a
document that allows them to pick and choose the descriptions and
procedures for the features that they actually use in their environment
and build their own manual. (customers have actually asked for this.)
One of the requests from our product manager is that we create a
document that does not allow customers to actually change the content
that we provide but it should allow them to hide or show the relevant
parts. I will most likely use Word or PDF as for this document (our
product is Windows based and these are probably the most common tools
for our customers). I've yet to find any built-in feature in Word or
PDF that allows me to control content and then allow someone else to
show/hide sections. Has anyone out there ever created a document like
this? I'm lookin' for ideas!


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