Poll: Provide documentation in PDF & Help formats, or only in Help formats?

Subject: Poll: Provide documentation in PDF & Help formats, or only in Help formats?
From: "Lin Sims" <ljsims -dot- ml -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2008 13:33:05 -0400

Possibly Pertinent Info: my new company creates software.

My new boss came into my area right before lunch asking whether it was
really necessary to provide any of our product documentation in PDF
formats. Yes, he meant the Installation/Deployment and Administration
documents as well as the user documents.

Apparently, his concern lies with how long it takes to design the PDF
output to look good. He's also convinced that none of the major
software providers are providing their customers with PDFs of
anything. His thought is that users who want printed documents can
just print out the help files.

We are/will be single-sourcing with Help&Manual, which can produce
both types of outputs. However, as I'm new to using this tool (or any
Help-focused tool), it will take time to learn how to design the print
manual templates to produce good looking PDFs. Of course, it will ALSO
take me some time to learn how to produce well-structured Help, since
that isn't something I've ever done before.

My belief is that we need to provide PDFs of the install & admin
guides, although a PDF user guide could maybe be dropped for
exclusively online and context-sensitive help. I'd want PDFs of the
Install & Admin because, if I'm looking for that sort of info on a
program, I look for either PDF or text. It would never occur to me to
look for a help file on an install disc.

Also, when installing a program, a printed PDF is easier to read from,
and refer to, than a printed or on-screen help file

Is anyone aware of any company providing enterprise level software who
does NOT also provide PDF documentation?
Does anyone agree that help files only are acceptable documentation?
Why or why not?


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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