RE: Wiki vs. RoboHelp

Subject: RE: Wiki vs. RoboHelp
From: "Joe Malin" <jmalin -at- tuvox -dot- com>
To: "A.H." <isaac840 -at- yahoo -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 9 Dec 2005 10:53:38 -0800

Any online tool can deliver end-user documentation. It's really the
tool, but how you use it, and how easy it is to use it in the right way.

That goes for the writers as well as the users.

It's wonderful to think that a wiki will encourage developers to write
their own documentation. This doesn't always happen; providing a wiki
doesn't encourage them any more than providing EMACS! Remember, somebody
still has to edit what they write, not only copy edit but organize and
make consistent. Even if you're dedicated to doing this, you may still
get the Wikipedia effect: a few errors will cast the entire wiki into
doubt.

In my previous work, I used an internal wiki that supposedly kept track
of design specifications and so forth. It wasn't edited, and rapidly
grew into a disorganized mash of information. Most of the writers hated
using it, because they couldn't find anything!

We have used Plone here to do internal documentation control, and the
same thing is happening.

My experience is that a few technical gurus latch on to the next great
collaborative tool (wiki, blog, plone, basecamp/backpack) and insist
that everyone use it. Try to point out that no tool is good for
everything, and they insist that the organization has to "standardize on
*one* tool, dammit!" At least, that is, until the next whizzy tool comes
out, at which point everyone switches over to *it*.

Sigh.

To quote Star Wars "I have a bad feeling about this."

I think you should go with the tool that will be easiest for your
*customers* to use. You don't mention who they are, so I can't advise
you any more. But a wiki doesn't seem like it would match most end
users.


YMMV.

Joe Malin
Technical Writer
(408)625-1623
jmalin -at- tuvox -dot- com
www.tuvox.com
The views expressed in this document are those of the sender, and do not
necessarily reflect those of TuVox, Inc.

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+jmalin=tuvox -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+jmalin=tuvox -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf
Of A.H.
Sent: Friday, December 09, 2005 10:31 AM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Wiki vs. RoboHelp

Hello all,

We've done all our user documentation using RoboHelp. We've been
using a wiki to house internal docs, to collaborate, etc. We're trying
to decide if we should stick with RoboHelp (or another program like
it) or use the wiki for end-user documentation.

The next phase in our software product's cycle is to offer modules
online. The goal is to build and nurture a community of developers to
somehow document their own modules.

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proprietary editor! *August release. http://www.componentone.com/TECHWRL/DocToHelp2005

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