Going Wiki for documentation?

Subject: Going Wiki for documentation?
From: "SB " <sylvia -dot- braunstein -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2007 04:26:18 +0300

What do you think of the idea of going "Wiki" for our documentation? (This
would include User Guides, Installation Guides, etc.)

We are an SME and as I see it, the documentation is becoming more and more
important as we grow, not to mention that the documentation team is growing
too. It is time to evaluate new tools.

We are currently using Word 2003 and need a tool for single
sourcing/structured writing as well as content and knowledge management. We
need both printed and online and webhelp documentation. We currently don't
have online help and this is something we need to think about.

I have mixed feelings both about continuing to use Word and about abandoning
it. I would like to choose a tool that allows the documentation to be more
dynamic instead of purely owned by the technical writers, as it would happen
with tools like FrameMaker, AuthorIT, etc.

I have tried Flare. It failed to convert a 550-page manual into Madcap Flare
and contacted the company for help but so far, to no avail. I did succeed to
convert a small manual though. Maybe my documents need to be designed for
optimal conversion using Flare?

I just read on this thread about Information Mapping but don't know anything
about it.

I recently heard someone introduce the idea of having all the documentation
into a Wiki set up into a beautiful web page (here is one example that got a
lot of very positive feedback:

Some companies such as IBM use Wikis but mostly for "internal" purposes. I
like the idea of using it for both internal as well as public purposes (of
course, not everybody would have privileges to edit it)

I am very enthusiastic about this idea but at the same time have some
serious reservations. I am listing below are the pros and cons I can think
of first hand. I would appreciate it if you could help me brainstorm.

- Very dynamic, revolutionary, avant-garde
- Structured writing/single sourcing
- Content and knowledge management --> Centralizes the documentation
- Enables the engineers in the company or the customers to write on the Wiki
(contents is then reviewed and approved by someone who has permissions to
update the Wiki) --> enables active participation.
- There are lots of macros and solutions to work around the problems we may

- Everybody would have to use a new tool that enables to write into the wiki
(we would probably not use a free Wiki but a tool that enables all kinds of
workarounds to to custom design it to our needs)
- Conversion from MS Word is not obvious at all and would require some
- Conversion into PDF is not simple either. Therefore printed documentation
into a nice format may be an issue.

I would be happy to know what you all think of this idea.

I would also be happy to know the best alternatives considering our needs
(listed above). I need to choose a tool that matches the requirements of our
company and would like to come up with the best arguments and solutions to
convince myself as well as the management to do this move.

I would be happy to provide more information, if something is unclear or

Thank you very much,


Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity! http://www.helpandmanual.com

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