Authoring tool that works in the cloud?

Subject: Authoring tool that works in the cloud?
From: Chris Despopoulos <despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 29 Mar 2011 23:42:26 -0700 (PDT)

You ask:
Is there a DTP or HAT (or both) that works in the cloud? If so, does anyone have
any experience with such a tool?

I say, step back a bit and ask this:
Is there an authoring system that works well with online collaboration?

Cloud security issues go away, and all your remote people rely on a VPN to make
their connections. If you're talking about remote developers, then that must be
the case anyway, since they're accessing source control, among other things.

First, I would expect they use JavaDocs and lots of good commenting in their
code. So that level of docs should already by intranet-wide.

Second, I would suggest they move all their Word docs onto a WIKI -- it's free
or cheap, light-weight on the client, the editor is even more ubiquitous than
Word, more stable, numbering works, no special OS-level tricks, no RIBBON GUI,
and it allows for full and free collaboration from anywhere. Simple in-house
conventions can distinguish between comments, proposed content, accepted
content, etc. For published docs, you step in and harvest the WIKI content to
publish in your DTP/HAT of choice. I have experience with this and it works

If they insist on Word as the transport format, deploy SharePoint. If you reach
any serious volume of content, you still need to harvest it and run it through a
predictable DTP/HAT.

In any event, it sounds like you have the pleasant opportunity to participate in
the design of their doc system. Look to the future, think about sustainable
processes, and have fun!

Why startups *ever* use something like Word (or any other proprietary word
processor) for their design docs is beyond me. WIKI is the way to go. For
their initial customer docs, I can almost understand the choice. But it's
short-sighted to start cranking out such docs without at least thinking about
hooks to the final doc solution. Would they start writing code without source
control, for example?


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.

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