Tool to handle pdf books and online help systems?

Subject: Tool to handle pdf books and online help systems?
From: Chris Despopoulos <despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2010 05:27:32 -0700 (PDT)


Can you elaborate on what you mean by importing PDF? To stick to the Acrobat metaphor, that would be a bit like saying you want to import paper documents. What are your requirements here?

Also in need of elaboration is how you plan to store these modules. That could impact your tools significantly. You probably need to identify the biggest pain point (or biggest cost) in your proposed work flow, and start your decision making from there. It's entirely possible that module storage would be the big-ticket item, so you need to clarify your storage/access requirements. You can range anywhere from using the file system to a full-blown OO topic management system.

Ultimately, the usual strategy is to identify a unifying data format. For input, you convert all the "import" formats (PDF, Word, HTML, Maker) into this unifying format. For output you then convert the unifying format to whatever you want to support. This is what XML is supposed to do, so brace yourself for lots of DITA-based solutions.

Why do you need to output Word files, BTW? Is this a customer requirement? Just out of experience, mixing Word and Maker always causes problems. Their document models are just that specifically different. For you is Word really a delivery format, or is it an authoring platform?

We are starting with broad criteria -- we'd like a tool that handles
modular documentation well (i.e., store content in modules, then
construct our deliverables from the modules we have written). It should
handle the import of PDF, FrameMaker, HTML, and Word files, and the
export of PDF, HTML, and Word files. DITA is not a required criterion.
If any readers of this list can offer suggestions for tools that can
support these functions, we'd greatly appreciate it.


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