Re: merging Robohelp projects?

Subject: Re: merging Robohelp projects?
From: Kathleen MacDowell <kathleen -dot- eamd -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 4 Jun 2012 12:10:41 -0500

I completely agree with Kevin about setting up Help files. It's one of
the hardest things about creating Help. You really need to work with
topics and set up a mental and formal map of the levels and their
relations, just like you would with a manual and it's TOC.

Your page intro doesn't have to be more than a sentence or short
paragraph, just enough to say where people are coming from (in the
help) and what info they'll find on the link/page.

I did that with some software manual I wrote and updated (one of the
few writers at the company who did). It always seemed dumb and boring,
but if people are paging through a doc or help file and see something
interesting, it will help give them the background.

Kathleen



On Mon, Jun 4, 2012 at 10:39 AM, McLauchlan, Kevin
<Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com> wrote:
> I think one of the things that I really like to see on Help pages is orientation.
> Too often, some random help page just jumps into its own little procedure, with all kinds of unspoken (unwritten) assumptions about how the user/reader got there, and why they need to do what they're being told to do right now, and what they should already have done.
>
> As someone who can occasionally be found on this list likes to say (might be the title of his blog...) "Every page is page one."
>
> It's not like a book that has Intro and flow and continuity. A person entering help might enter it at any point, for a variety of reasons. Useful help has to let them know that they are in the right place, as well as tell them the actual steps to do what they came for... if it turns out they've actually landed on the page they needed... and not one that has a similar/related procedure, but which doesn't apply to their actual situation... and might actually hurt their situation if they don't clue-in in time.
>
> So a help page that includes a procedure should provide the continuity by saying explicitly where it assumes the reader is arriving from, and maybe what steps they should already have taken or what state they (or the product) should already be in, for the current help page to be useful.
>
> ON THE OTHER HAND... Â:) Â Your structure and visual conventions should show an experienced reader where the meat starts, so they can quickly skip over the orientation material, if it's old-hat to them, and they just want a refresh on the particular steps of procedure XYZ.
>
> One of the biggest problems I encounter with Help on the web (if only Microsoft and Adobe and others were listening) is knowing enough background to decide that I'm on the right page for what I need. ÂI usually arrive from a Google search, so the specific instructions on the page I'm reading might be perfectly accurate and easy to follow... but completely wrong for what I need to accomplish. ÂOr, it might be completely right, but it just sounds wrong, because it appears to be talking about something different than what I thought was my problem or task. Glue. Glue is good.
>
> Cheers,
>
> Â-k
>
> From: Becca [mailto:becca_price -at- yahoo -dot- com]
> Sent: June-04-12 10:33 AM
> To: McLauchlan, Kevin; tech2wr-l; Fred Ridder
> Subject: Re: merging Robohelp projects?
>
> The first two classes in the series were very document oriented. We were using Word, and developing procedure and tutorial manuals, so there was a lot of work on content, structure, and so on. The third class in the sequence was learning FrameMaker, and was more process oriented (we were working in teams, where each team member had a specific role, and had regular team meetings, and so on). But all these classes were print-oriented.
>
> This last class is very much tool-oriented. It's assumed we know how to write by now. My main issue is that I know there are different design considerations for developing good on-line help (shorter sentences, more pithy and to the point writing), but I'm sure there are other best practices for help that I just don't know about, and am not even sure what questions to ask.
>
> From my research into this program and the teacher, the tech writing certificate seems to be looked on very favorably in the local community, and has a good reputation for turning out competent writers. I came into this program having 20+ years experience writing policy and procedure manuals, but with a 6 year gap between now and when I last worked, so I'm looking for things that are very different than the average student is.
>
> -becca
>
> -------------------------------------
> "Grant us, in our direst need, the smallest gifts: the nail of the horseshoe, the pin of the axle, the feather at the pivot point, the pebble at the mountain's peak, the kiss in despair, the one right word. In darkness, understanding."
> Paladin of Souls (HB page 35), Lois McMaster Bujold
> ________________________________
> From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
> To: Fred Ridder <docudoc -at- hotmail -dot- com>; "becca -at- di -dot- org" <becca -at- di -dot- org>; "techwr-l -at- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- techwr-l -dot- com>
> Sent: Monday, June 4, 2012 10:16 AM
> Subject: RE: merging Robohelp projects?
>
> Hint to Becca:
>
> The brightest, go-getter-est people in your class have
> probably found out pretty much what you have, to get the
> task done... but they've written up the process and published
> it in their blogs, so they will have some CONTENT to show
> to prospective employers. ÂNudge...... nudge.... '
>
> If you look back in the archives of this list, you'll see
> where many of the members are hiring managers, and almost
> uniformly, they value the nitty-gritty skills of techwriting
> over the ability to use a specific tool.
>
> Fred and I are really hoping that that is just ONE class
> in your curriculum, and that most of the others have to
> do with actual research, organization and writing.
>
>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Fred Ridder
>>
>>
>> Becca wrote:
>>
>>
>> > These are just demonstration projects, showing that we know how to
>> use features of the tool. I don't think we're being graded on content
>> at all.
>>
>> Seriously?!?!?
>>
>>
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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.
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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.
>
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>
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--
Kathleen MacDowell
kathleen -dot- eamd -at- gmail -dot- com

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
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://bit.ly/doc-to-help

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References:
merging Robohelp projects?: From: Becca
RE: merging Robohelp projects?: From: Myles Owens
Re: merging Robohelp projects?: From: Rick Stone
Re: merging Robohelp projects?: From: Becca
RE: merging Robohelp projects?: From: McLauchlan, Kevin

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