Re: Index/TOC Needed in HTML &/or Browser-Based Help?

Subject: Re: Index/TOC Needed in HTML &/or Browser-Based Help?
From: Janice Gelb <janice -dot- gelb -at- sun -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 23 May 2006 09:30:13 -0700

Joe Malin wrote:

I have had users here who ask for an "index", that is, keyword search,
rather than text search.

I see several streams of inquiry related to this:
* User expectations - Does it confuse users if a TOC and index are
* User modeling/research - Are we convinced that users only need a
search engine?
* Tech writing expectations - Are we as tech writers uncomfortable with
removing TOCs and indexes? Is this
based on experience, or fear of change?
* Technology - Are our search tools sufficient to achieve customer

A few points about about indexing vs. text search:

* Full text searches depend on what the author includes in the
document (I remember an STC presentation by Jared Spool a couple
of years ago in which he said a search of Smithsonian Magazine
archives for "dinosaur" turned up an article on the American steel
industry but not one on tyrannasaurus rex).

* You can provide alternate industry terms in an index but not
a text search (for example, if you use "Contacts" rather than
"Addresses" for an address book)

* An index can indicate the significance of a topic by
where the entry is grouped in a sequence

* An index can provide other related topics using "see also"

Janice Gelb | The only connection Sun has with
janice -dot- gelb -at- sun -dot- com | this message is the return address

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RE: Index/TOC Needed in HTML &/or Browser-Based Help?: From: Joe Malin

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