centralizing product docs for the customer

Subject: centralizing product docs for the customer
From: "Tami Groth" <Tami_Groth -at- lacrossesoftware -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 4 Apr 2008 09:14:03 -0500

Hello -- I've barely had time to read since joining a few months ago,
but I'm hoping to change that. I'm the lone Tech Writer at our software
company, and I wish I could change that. :-) The one thing I have been
able to change is the company's investment in my professional
development, so I recently attended the Writers UA conference in
Portland and will also be attending the STC Summit in Philadelphia.

<<I'm interested in hearing from those of you who display lists of
product documentation on "splash screens" or other presentations that
are more user-friendly than a folder structure on a CD or than an
organized webpage. My small group is looking at moving in that
direction. >>

Pamela --

I'm not sure if your products are similar enough for comparison or not,
but here is what we currently have and/or are planning to have:

--The "Home" area of our UI (comparable to a splash screen?) includes a
"readme" button as well as the typical Help menu/F1 access to the Help

--Several places throughout the UI there are specific links to the Help
System, and it is not obvious that this is really the same Help that
opens when you click F1, but in almost all cases it is (a few go
directly to an external website).

--Historically our help was in .chm format, but we are moving to HTML
pages (this is the first release with HTML pages).

--All of our Help is available locally as part of the product install at
this time. We will never force users to go to the Internet for
assistance, but we will be putting our Help on our customer site in the
future so they can get updated versions at any time. We are also
starting to offer more PDF files.

--Historically our Training and Customer Support departments created and
sent out their own documents, and we are trying to consolidate and
create a consistent documentation set to offer both through the Help
System and as PDF guides.

--Printed material is generally only available when customers take
classes from the trainers; however, that may change as well. We will
never offer a comprehensive printed guide because it would simply be too
large to be practical.

--We are also moving to have this user assistance available from a
variety of places to make it very easy for the users, and in fact I
would like to make a good chunk of it literally integrated with the

User friendly is good. :-)

Good luck --

Tami Groth / tami_groth -at- lacrossesoftware -dot- com
<mailto:tami_groth -at- lacrossesoftware -dot- com>
Technical Writer
Tel: 608.784.8400 / 877.766.6455
Fax: 608.791.5660
ECi La Crosse
http://www.lacrossesoftware.com <http://www.lacrossesoftware.com/>


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