Help for multiple applications

Subject: Help for multiple applications
From: "David Loveless" <daveloveless -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2006 10:22:25 -0600


I have been tasked with embarking on the next generation of Help for
my company, and I wanted to get some general opinions before making
said embarkation.

Here's the scenario (buckle up):

We produce a suite of basically 5 major applications that more or less
work together. Two of these products are bundled together roughly 95%
of the time. The other three products can function independently or
inconjunction with the other products, and they are sold as
independent products or part of a package that includes three, four,
or all five of the other products. Have I lost anyone yet? Good.

Because all five products are related in at least some way and because
a help topic for one product is more than likely relevant to at least
one other product, we would like to create a universal Help system
that covers all five products. We also intend on developing this help
as a web-based system so that it is more easily updated and
maintained. We do use an automatic update feature with our products,
but only about 40% of our users currently run the update often enough
to be of any real value.

However, because some of these applications are sold as independent
products, we also intend on using Conditional tags to allow access to
only relevant Help files for that application.

Later, we would like to add some Wiki functionality to the entire Help
system to allow users to post their own information for general use.

As for me, I am relatively new to the world of Help. Many of the
"tricks-o'-the-trade" are still unknown to me, but I am enrolled in
the School of Hard Knocks and currently working on my undergraduate in
No Pain, No Gain with a minor in Character Development. The Help files
need to cover an international audience, the audience is generally
technically savvy, and I'm using MadCap Flare. My expertise with
MadCap is somewhere around moderate at best, but I'm learning new
tricks almost daily.

My questions:
-Has anyone done something similar, and can you offer me advice?
-Do any of you Help Gurus out there see any holes in our plans?
-Has anyone ever used a Wiki in this kind of setup, and can you give
me any thoughts?
-Can anyone find an applicable Dilbert that would capture this project



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