Documentation collaboration - best practices and tools used?

Subject: Documentation collaboration - best practices and tools used?
From: Shawn <shawn -at- cohodata -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 30 Oct 2014 04:27:25 -0700

Greetings all,

I am seeking advice on best practices for including document collaboration
in your workflow.

My current workflow is an inconvenient mess:
1) Storyboarding and build pre-draft work is completed in Google Docs (we
use Google Apps for office)
Pros: OS agnostic tool that allows all employees to contribute.
Cons: Need to manually copy content into Flare to build draft document.
Once I begin building
Flare draft, the Google Doc is out of sync/obsolete.

2) Move draft content into MadCap Flare (for building HTML/PDF documents)

3) Publish draft content to PDF and upload to Crocodoc for collaboration
review
Pros: OS agnostic reviewing tool that presents a near-exact replica of
the published doc.
Cons: Only allows annotations and comments. No editing of document
allowed.

4) Take comments and integrate into Flare source - repeat back to (3),
until Final.
Cons: Tedious and inefficient process.

It is imperative that I improve this workflow... or at least improve Step 3.

*My Criteria*
- Must be an OS agnostic collaboration tool. In other words, MadCap
Contributor is useless in my work environment.
- The collaboration tool must allow full text editing (not just comments) -
ideally from a PDF since this is my most mature Flare Target.
- Must be low cost or free. Some SAAS collaboration tools cost $1000's per
year.
I want to avoid any SAAS that requires cumbersome account logins or
charges per user access. Some of my SMEs may only need to review a document
once. I don't want to have to pay a fee for that one-time use.
- Ideally, the ability to leverage Google Docs is desired.
- I need to automate/script any process that involves Flare output to
collaboration tool.


*What have I tested?*

Management is encouraging me to leverage what we already have...
- I spent some time trying to use Google docs throughout the entire
workflow. Unfortunately, Google Docs is extremely limited in its ability to
convert PDF to gdoc format. I have even tested Word to gdoc conversion but
the results were less than desirable.

- git is also a central tool in our work environment, so I had also
considered Confluence. Unfortunately, it also has very limited import
functions...although its conversion of Word to Confluence (wiki) is
significantly better than Word to gdoc.

- I have even considered Acrobat's Shared review option. Adobe reader is
pretty much hardware agnostic, in the sense that its binary is universally
available. This is still in progress as I have hit a minor roadblock...
need a Webdav repository.


If only there was a 3rd party PDF to gdocs converter available (or Flare
gdocs Target option). I believe my troubles would be over. :)


Your shared experiences are valued!

Thank you,

--
*Shawn Connelly*
Technical writer

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Read about how Georgia System Operation Corporation improved teamwork, communication, and efficiency using Doc-To-Help | http://bit.ly/1lRPd2l

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