RE: Two Professional Questions

Subject: RE: Two Professional Questions
From: "Porrello, Leonard" <lporrello -at- illumina -dot- com>
To: "Roberta Hennessey" <rahennessey -at- gmail -dot- com>, <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 1 Oct 2010 16:14:04 -0700

I used Help & Manual for the past five or so years to single source and
automatically publish several hundred pages of documentation, for three
different products, as Web help and PDF, and I have been using Flare for
the past three months on a single document of only 240 pages with no
snippets and only four conditions. The only thing Flare has over H&M is
that it can import from Frame (which is why, unfortunately, my group is
forced to use it). I also like the way it gives me a window in which to
create and work with TOCs.

Apart from the way it manages TOCs and Frame import (which requires a
huge amount of manual cleanup), Flare is very disappointing. The WYSIWYG
editor is not truly WYSIWYG, the code is not XML (and features
proprietary "madcap" tags), and it is about as buggy as early versions
of Word. It has crashed on me several times over the past three months.
In contrast, H&M has all of the capability of Flare (and probably more
since I was able to create excellent, customized PDFs over five years
ago--when Flare's PDF functionality was apparently still vaporware). H&M
code is truly XML. The WYSIWYG editor is as easy to use and "intuitive"
as Word. H&M crashed on me only twice in five years (even though I was
working with a very large, interconnected document set with multiple
conditions)--really; and it recovered itself so that I did not lose any
of my work. (I can't say the same for Flare.) Also unlike Flare, H&M has
excellent and comprehensive help. Best of all, H&M tech support is
excellent, the best I have ever worked with. I was able to ask questions
about how to do things as well as questions about problems I was having
with the product. I posted 264 issues and questions over the course of
five years--and I never had to wait more than a day for a truly helpful
response. Finally, H&M support does not require a service plan; it is
included in the price of the product (which, last I checked, is
significantly less than Flare).

Having said all that, I have to add that I am truly impressed with
Madcap's extraordinary marketing. They've sold the tech writing world on
a product which I can describe only using a word Madcap used to describe
RoboHelp: "Craptasitic."

BTW, I get absolutely nothing for plugging H&M. I am doing so only
because, in spite of Gene's generally true maxim about no tool being
objectively better than another, H&M is a superior tool.

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+lporrello=illumina -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+lporrello=illumina -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On
Behalf Of Roberta Hennessey
Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 11:30 AM
To: salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com
Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: Two Professional Questions

Ah, thank you so much.

What have people's experience been with MadCap's suite of products?
thumbs up or down?


On Tue, Sep 28, 2010 at 2:25 PM, Chris Morton <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com>
wrote:

> For any Word question (or M$ question), I recommend Windows Secrets
> Lounge<http://lounge.windowssecrets.com/>(formerly Woody's Lounge, as
> in long-acknowledged Word uber-guru, Woody
> Leonhard).
>
> > Chris
> On Tue, Sep 28, 2010 at 10:01 AM, Roberta Hennessey
> <rahennessey -at- gmail -dot- com>wrote:
>
> > Oh my, I hope I've not been annoying.
> >
> > My consideration is that the guide I was hired to create is now apt
to be
> > at
> > least two guides, and a future
> > software releases will add a third book. There are no functional
specs
> here
> > nor program management milestones.
> > It appeared Word was going to be the tool of choice before I got
here.
> >
> > Not being a Word superuser, I have found Word does not update the
TOCs
> > very
> > well. I also cannot get Shift + F5 to
> > work with cross references so users can go back to the point of
origin of
> > the cross reference. This would provide a user
> > with quick, good access to additional information if they needed it.
> (Does
> > anyone know of a fix? I see lots of complaints on web but no
solution.)
> >
> > Part of the comfort factor is true, though I see ease of creating
other
> > versions of the doc a consideration as well.
> > I think (and I could be very wrong) it would take another contractor
far
> > less time to come in an add 2 new chapters to
> > a guide using Frame than using Word (and running the risk of the doc
> > getting
> > too big).
> >
> > Am I wrong? Can anyone suggest where a writer can go for expert
superuser
> > Word help? What alternative tools would people
> > suggest - this is going to be 2 to 3 guides for an internet
application.
> I
> > think I have 6-9 weeks to complete.
> >
> > Bobbi
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > On Tue, Sep 28, 2010 at 12:21 PM, Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
wrote:
> >
> > > That was my interpretation as well. Either the company is
intrigued by
> > > Bobbi's FM experience and would like to know whether FM would be
an
> > > improvement over what they have now, or (hopefully not) Bobbi has
> managed
> > > to
> > > annoy them with comments about how much "better" FM is as a tool
and
> > > they're
> > > giving her a chance to put up or you-know-what by providing a
detailed
> > > FM-vs-Word comparison.
> > >
> > > I've done single-sourcing with FM and I hated it. I doubt that
I'd
> like
> > > trying to do it in Word any better. If it's a genuine future
step, my
> > > preference would be to move to a native XML tool. Single-sourcing
is a
> > > significant mindset adjustment compared to traditional authoring,
and
> > > trying
> > > to hang on to old, familiar tool environments just bogs down the
> learning
> > > process. At least it did for me.
> > >
> > > Gene Kim-Eng
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > On Tue, Sep 28, 2010 at 7:26 AM, Combs, Richard
> > > <richard -dot- combs -at- polycom -dot- com>wrote:
> > >
> > > > So, to recap, here's the situation as I understand it: The
company
> has
> > > been
> > > > using Word. Bobbi has come in as a contract technical writer,
and
> she's
> > > > experienced with FM, but has never used Word for such a project.
> > > >
> > > > Why would you say the issue isn't Word vs. FM? Other than your
> > enthusiasm
> > > > for ID, that is. :-)
> > > >
> > > > The issue is Word vs. FM because one is a comfortable fit for
the
> > company
> > > > (no change required) and the other is a comfortable fit for
their
> > writer
> > > (no
> > > > learning curve or stumbling blocks).
> > > >
> > > ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> > >
> > > Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with
> > > Doc-To-Help.
> > > Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need. Try
> > > Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.
> > > http://www.doctohelp.com
> > >
> > > LavaCon 2010 in San Diego Sept 29 - Oct 2 is now open for
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> > >
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> > >
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> >
> >
> > --
> > Roberta Hennessey
> > Technical Writer
> > (978) 835-4282
> > ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> >
> > Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with
> > Doc-To-Help.
> > Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need. Try
> > Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.
> > http://www.doctohelp.com
> >
> > LavaCon 2010 in San Diego Sept 29 - Oct 2 is now open for
registration.
> > Use referral code TECHWR-L for $50 off conference tuition!
> > See program at: http://lavacon.org/
> >
> >
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> >
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>
> Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with
> Doc-To-Help.
> Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need. Try
> Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.
> http://www.doctohelp.com
>
> LavaCon 2010 in San Diego Sept 29 - Oct 2 is now open for
registration.
> Use referral code TECHWR-L for $50 off conference tuition!
> See program at: http://lavacon.org/
>
>
> ---
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>
> To unsubscribe send a blank email to
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om
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>
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>
> Please move off-topic discussions to the Chat list, at:
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>
>


--
Roberta Hennessey
Technical Writer
(978) 835-4282
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with
Doc-To-Help.
Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need. Try
Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.
http://www.doctohelp.com

LavaCon 2010 in San Diego Sept 29 - Oct 2 is now open for registration.

Use referral code TECHWR-L for $50 off conference tuition!
See program at: http://lavacon.org/


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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with Doc-To-Help.
Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need. Try
Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.
http://www.doctohelp.com

LavaCon 2010 in San Diego Sept 29 - Oct 2 is now open for registration.
Use referral code TECHWR-L for $50 off conference tuition!
See program at: http://lavacon.org/


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