how to make a gigantic doc set easily searchable?

Subject: how to make a gigantic doc set easily searchable?
From: "Samantha Slate" <samantha -dot- slate -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2006 10:14:24 -0400

hi there,

The doc group that I work in has been presented with an interesting

Much of our documentation is intended to help in-house consultants and tech
support, as well as the occasional tech-savvy customer, with the very
complicated task of installing and configuring our products. Currently, we
publish all of our docs as PDFs. However, we've been getting complaints
recently that the doc set is not easy to navigate. We are looking at
reorganizing the books in ways that will seem more intuitive to users, but
even so, we would like to be able to offer some sort of advanced-search
capabilities that lets the user search more than one book at a time, using
more than one search term (unlike PDF, which only lets you search for one
text string at a time).

The obvious thing (to me) that comes to mind is a password-protected web
site. But is it possible to single-source our documentation so that it can
be used both as the content of such a Web site *and* in a PDF-publishable
format, since some customers do still want the PDFs?

Also, have any of you ever been asked to enhance search capabilities for
your documentation? If so, how did you respond to the request?


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