RE: Which product should we use?

Subject: RE: Which product should we use?
From: "egalite" <egalite -at- westnet -dot- com -dot- au>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 22 Oct 2006 17:45:20 +0800

Hi Samantha,

Funny thing, I just went through this myself! As well as the authoring tool,
it looks like you'll need to consider transformation tools. In my mind,
these are two separate things.

So, briefly addressing your requirements:
1 & 2 - there are a stack of tools available to help transform almost any
source into either format, but that contributes to the overall cost of the
solution. Off the top of my head, Webworks Publisher will do the job, and
Madcap Flare as well, but I didn't investigate these in-depth too much.
There are probably cheaper tools out there, too.

Point 3 - you said customizable for clients? That could be the deal-breaker
- will you be getting the edits back and republishing the documents, or do
your clients get it, make their changes, and publish it themselves? If the
latter, you'd need to find out what tools the clients use, because if all
they've got is Word then there may be no point in investigating other tools.
Otherwise you may be able to get away with them making edits in an editable
PDF, which you would then use to make the changes and republish.

What I did:
When I was looking, my main consideration is that I wanted support for DITA
XML, which narrowed the field somewhat. My other main criteria was that I
wanted WYSIWIG editing. Additional factors that I took into consideration
were price and community support. Community support was important to me
because I didn't have any experience with the candidates I had in mind. (The
lack of experience in a tool, IMO, shouldn't be enough to deter anyone from
using it, because it's always useful to acquire another skill. But I

Anyway, in the end I went with Framemaker, because it was the cheapest
option that satisfied my requirements. (Then after I ordered it at work I
raced over to Amazon and bought Classroom in a Book so I could practice
using it on my trial version at home!). I realise Frame's not perfect in
every respect, but what tool is?

The best suggestion I can offer is to pick some tools, download the trial
versions, and try them out yourself. Be aware that the trial version may not
contain the most current patch for the product. I don't know how long you
have to research this, but your time's probably limited, so go with your gut
and test your preferred tool out first.

Good luck in your search!

Trish :)

: -----Original Message-----
: Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2006 11:45:36 -0700
: From: "Samantha Montini" <s_montini -at- qwest -dot- net>
: Subject: Which product should we use?
: The first step involves working with the company to determine
: the best authoring tool for the project.
: [snip]
: The company's goal is to have me document something once,
: then "re-purpose" it for hardcopy and online use. Three
: things they want to be able to provide from a single source are:
: 1.. Adobe PDF's for people to download and view/print on their own.
: 2.. Online help organized and linked to each screen.
: 3.. Customizable for clients. Ie. We deliver to them the
: source in some editable format and they can edit and
: customize it all they want to fit their specific needs.
: Any suggestions? I know Framemaker is a popular tool for
: tech writers, but I haven't personally used it yet. Can you
: create both hard copy and online documentation with it? I
: apologize for my lack of expertise, and appreciate your feedback!


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