Re: Your opinion about help authoring tools

Subject: Re: Your opinion about help authoring tools
From: voxwoman <voxwoman -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "Gretchen Hollis" <gretchen -dot- hollis -at- att -dot- net>
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 2008 06:34:53 -0500

On Tue, Dec 2, 2008 at 2:54 PM, Gretchen Hollis <gretchen -dot- hollis -at- att -dot- net>wrote:

> Hello all,
> I'm a technical writing graduate student, and I'm interested in other
> technical writers' experiences with help authoring tools . I would
> appreciate your responses to the following questions.
> 1. What type of technical writing job do/did you have (i.e., your title,
> company, and your technical writing responsibilities) and where are you
> located (i.e., state)?

Sr Tech Writer/independent consultant - various companies, including systems
integration houses, telecomm, computer industry, in New Jersey (NY Metro

> 2. Did you take courses that taught you how to use help authoring tools
> (i.e., RoboHelp, Doc-To-Help, AuthorIT) or desktop publishing tools (i.e.,
> Framemaker, Illustrator, InDesign, Quark). If no, skip to #5.

Yes. A self-paced course in FrameMaker, and a formal course in Photoshop.

> 3. If so, did you take the course(s) through a university or somewhere
> else?

Both courses were presented by training companies. The Photoshop course was
a seminar-type course held over 3 days. (I have also found Adobe's Classroom
In a Book series to be extremely helpful learning the nuances of their
Creative Suite).

> 4. Did you take the course before or during your technical writing job?

On-the-job training

> 5. Do you think on-the-job learning is sufficient for learning help
> authoring tools for your work?

Yes, but I am able to learn how to use tools very quickly so I may not be a
good benchmark for this. I have learned *all* the tools I use on the job.

> 6. Do you think technical writing programs at universities should teach
> students how to use help authoring tools?

I think the university program should teach their students how to learn to
use tools in general -techniques for learning tools. Different jobs will
have different tool sets and the writer needs to pick that up quickly.
Universities should be as tool-agnostic as possible.


ComponentOne Doc-To-Help 2009 is your all-in-one authoring and publishing
solution. Author in Doc-To-Help's XML-based editor, Microsoft Word or
HTML and publish to the Web, Help systems or printed manuals.

Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual
authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write
once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control!

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Your opinion about help authoring tools: From: Gretchen Hollis

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