Customizable Help

Subject: Customizable Help
From: "David Loveless" <daveloveless -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2007 09:27:44 -0600

Here's the situation:

The company I work for develops enterprise software. Because of the
nature of our product, I need to provide each of the company's clients
with customized help. Typically, this is as simple as adding or
removing single lines of information. For example, some clients want
their employees to go step A, then B, then C. Others just want steps A
and C plus D. Most other customizations are simple edits to the skin.
Each help system is relatively small and simple, but the potential
growth in clients is enormous.

After analyzing everything, I think I can get away with writing a
universal help that includes all the available steps and then
basically picking and choosing the information I want to include. What
I would like to do is develop the universal help to a point where I
could, simply by asking several well-formed questions, determine the
help they want and need and then just "request" that information from
a database of all possible information.

The image I have in my mind is almost a questionnaire where I could go
down the list and basically mark in or out for the "customized"
portions of the help, click build, and get a generic help that would
then be reviewed for accuracy.

My problem:

I've never done anything remotely like this. I barely even know where
to start except to say that I have a finished product in mind. Has
anyone done anything like this? Are there any specific programs that
could create this type of help? Any suggested plans of attack or

I currently have MadCap Flare as my HAT, but the higher ups are
willing to spring for whatever will accomplish the job. Writing Help
is a relatively new experience for me, but I do have some experience
under my belt. I'm more than willing to learn and try something new.



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