Plan Your Dream Department Tools

Subject: Plan Your Dream Department Tools
From: Nancy Allison <maker -at- verizon -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2010 13:28:37 -0500 (CDT)

After years of working in bare-bones startups (where the tools were Microsoft Word, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Word), I'm now being asked to recommend tools for a techpubs group. I'd like your thoughts on this.

Assume that you've been hired into a department that is using FrameMaker 7.2 in Windows XP, no graphics tool other than MS Paint, no screencam tool, and no online help tool other than the WebWorks Publisher that came with FrameMaker, and the HTML Help workshop.

This doc group is undergoing radical changes and there's now lots of room for innovation. In the future, you expect to create:

--PDFs for print manuals
--Tailored online help (NOT just the manuals spewed into HTML)
--Interactive web-based troubleshooting tools
--Interactive web-based quizzes and surveys
--Software demos created using webcams, sound files, and other media

It's a small company and there is not much documentation overlap between products, so there isn't a need for a powerful content management system. The company is not going to move into XML any time soon. However, every document is translated into roughly a dozen languages.

You've been given a free hand to recommend the department's new software tool set. What would you choose?


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