Re: Approach and estimation for a cleanup/conversion product - Word docs to FM and OLH

Subject: Re: Approach and estimation for a cleanup/conversion product - Word docs to FM and OLH
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com, info -at- spectrumwritingllc -dot- com
Date: Fri, 25 Sep 2009 16:21:40 +0300


I have fought docs like that, full of format overrides and other crud.

In the end, I found I actually saved a HUGE amount of time and effort
simply exporting the whole thing as plain text, then formatting it in
Frame. In the end, of course, it had no format overrides in the
finished product at all and was thus far more maintainable in future

(Even Frame docs with copious overrides sometimes yield to this
treatment as a best solution, too--at least as of Frame 6 at any

Whether you clean up the grammar and such in Word, text, or in Frame
is up to you...I would personally do it as I imported and formatted
everything in Frame from the text file since I would be closely
examining everything as I went to be sure the format application was

A slight variation on this might be if you are set up with dual
monitors (which in my view you should be--a study I was part of some
years ago found about a 12% productivity gain in a docs department),
you might have the text doc open on one screen, the Frame doc in the
other...and move the pieces section by section so you are sure you
don't miss anything in the process.

Before any of that, though, you might do a careful analysis of each
volume to determine the chapter and section structure and see if it
will survive in the new arrangement, or if some of it should be
rearranged, deleted, or added to.

In the end, there is no denying it's a hard slog pretty much any way
you slice it. However, dealing with numerous format overrides in any
other way I am familiar with results in so much additional hassle that
I believe it is simply not worth it.

As for the online help, it's pretty much the same thing--use your
normal tools and bring in the text that survives your preliminary


From: "Tammy Van Boening" <info -at- spectrumwritingllc -dot- com>
To: "TechWhirl List" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 24 Sep 2009 15:19:11 -0600
Subject: Approach and estimation for a cleanup/conversion product -
Word docs to FM and OLH

A client has just approached me with a request for a ballpark (+/- $5000)
estimate of a cleanup/conversion project. In a nutshell, the materials that
I am inheriting:

1.) Three separate product lines - desktop based and each with a
corresponding web component

2.) Each product line has as a User's guide of approximately 200 pages and
a Configuration guide of approximately 200 pages for the desktop piece and a
QRG for the web component at approximately 50 pages.

3.) EVERYTHING is in Word without the benefit of a template or styles -
all overridden normal.

The client wants each guide and each QRG converted to Framemaker with the
same look and feel and "chunking" approach that I provided for a different
product line in a previous project and along the way, it also means (as we
both know it will), a thorough clean-up and scouring of the current content
(lots and lots of extra verbiage, poor wording, bad grammar/syntax) without
truly rewriting the content and the client wants an online help system for
each product as well. The OLH will not be context-sensitive, so we are
looking at 9 guides and 6 OLH systems (1 for each desktop application and 1
for each web-based application.)

If I had the luxury of having Word documents that used styles, I was hoping
to involve a copy and paste into a Framemaker document with identical style
names and then running a Framescript for a cleanup and use the FM documents
to single source for OLH, but. . . .

I know that there are many gurus and guru-esses out on the list who have run
into this issue - of that I am sure - and any and all advice about how to
approach this conversion/what techniques to use so that I could give a
better than "ballpark average" figure on the estimate would be so


Tammy Van Boening

Free Software Documentation Project Web Cast: Covers developing Table of
Contents, Context IDs, and Index, as well as Doc-To-Help
2009 tips, tricks, and best practices.

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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