An organizational conundrum

Subject: An organizational conundrum
From: "Holly Steele" <hsteele1 -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 4 Aug 2008 17:04:08 -0500

Hello everyone

I want to say first how grateful I am to all you who read my questions and
give suggestions. Techwr-l is a really excellent resource, so I want to
thank you all.

I have an organizational conundrum. I have a solution, but I don't like the
solution because document management is not controlled.

The company I am working for has four common documents that are used in
different user guides. Some user guides use all four, some two or three, and
some only one.

These common documents live on the network drive as subfolders in a folder
called Common.

Clear, easy document management so far.

Here is where the problem starts...

User guides are designed for an Agriculture and Forest audience. I have used
templates and hidden styles to create conditional text and images in the
areas where the User Guides differ for the different users.

Each manual is composed of chapters.

Manual A has 13 chapters plus 4 common chapters

Manual B has 1 chapter and 2 common chapters

I need to create one full document for the client and also to send to

Using INCLUDETEXT is not an option because when I do that, the document
won't open properly or display the images. Also, I need to embed all the
images in each chapter because I am importing to Flare and Flare doesn't
accept linked images. With all the embedded images, the document is too
large for the computer and odd things start to happen.

So, my co-worker and I decided to use PDF to try to solve the problem and
grab the individual chapters by PDF and put it all together.

Sounds great, right. Keep the common chapters in the common folder and the
specific user guide chapters in their respective folders and just grab what
you need. Place the PDF somewhere that makes sense and we have a good
document organizational system.
Unfortunately, things are seldom as easy as they seem. What about the Table
of Contents? Ah yes, RD fields.

To create RD fields, all the chapters need to be in the same folder. This
means that, for example, the QB common chapter will need to be in the Manual
A folder as well as the Manual B folder.

To make matters worse, the page numbers will be different (I suspect) when
using the Agriculture template, the Forest template, and the review
template. So, to get the pagination right for the RD fields we need to make
three copies of QB (one for the Agriculture folder, one for the Forest
folder, and one for the review folder (Review copy shows all conditional

My concern is that with all these copies around someone will make changes to
a copy and those changes will not get transferred to the QB document that
lives in the common folder.

I could use read-only files in the different user guide folders. That would
solve the problem of people changing the wrong version, but I would have a
bigger problem: if a change was made to QB (in the Common folder), that
document would have to be copied to all the manuals that use that chapter (I
am not sure how many use that chapter...but I think at least 5, possibly

They want single-sourcing so this kind of mess doesn't happen. But, putting
the chapters together with INCLUDETEXT doesn't seem to work either.

I would love to be able to do this project in a system that would suit my
needs better (like FrameMaker). However, the company wants everything in
Word and on-line help.

So, if you are up for a puzzle, I would love to hear your suggestions.

Thanks everyone.


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