What are the latest tools

Subject: What are the latest tools
From: Ronald Schwarz <RSchwarz -at- cosmocom -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 16:59:29 -0400

My company has dumped all its documentation, including engineering
documents, into a wiki (Confluence provided by Atlassian). I did the
same for user documentation. It was my understanding when I started here
that I no longer need to produce online help.

Lo and behold the customers want online help. They, and even the
salesmen here, need printable documents, such as PDFs. The PDFs produced
by Confluence can be described in 4 letter words. Exporting information
to HTML so I can create online help is another bag of worms.

I've been reading in a few places that FrameMaker is "showing its age."
I was even notified by a vendor that Webworks Publisher is no longer
supported. They are supporting a newer product in its place.

Independent of all the above what is the currently favored software to
produce documentation?

In connection with wikis, is there single sourcing documentation tool
that is compatible with maintaining user documentation in wiki and
"static" format, such as online help and PDF? Obviously, dynamic wiki
content can be converted only at snapshot intervals, such as major
contract award or product release, to static online help and PDFs.

Would it be a good idea to dump a large document full of screen captures
and other attachments into Word and use Word Help to generate online

For a Confluence user, this would also mean cleaning Confluence gaffs
like footnotes that resemble table entries, editing tables to make them
look reasonable, etc.

Since the single source would remain the wiki (so that the sages among
customers and engineers can enter their own changes and comments), the
snapshots entail house cleaning prior to publication. Using conditional
text for version control and revision planning would not be possible.
(Nevertheless, management wants to give customers detailed change
history, topic by topic.)

Ronald Schwarz

Senior Technical Writer

CosmoCom, Inc.
121 Broad Hollow Road
Melville, NY 11747 USA
Phone: +1 (631) 940-4320
Fax: +1 (631) 574-3161
EMAIL: RSchwarz -at- cosmocom -dot- com
URL: http://www.cosmocom.com

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