Re: any useful doc tools in Zendesk?

Subject: Re: any useful doc tools in Zendesk?
From: Ryan Haber <ryan -dot- haber -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Robert Lauriston <robert -at- lauriston -dot- com>, TECHWR-L Writing <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 22 Jul 2015 18:48:25 +0000

Oh, ho.

Funny you ask. I just worked with a company a few months ago that was using
ZenDesk for its docs. It is severely limiting.

1. There aren't any tools that we could find that integrate with it tidily.
So just use your HTML editor of choice and copy and paste. And hope.
2. The CSS controls for it allow lots of skinning, but not really any sort
of substantial refactoring of the frontend.
3. Version control? Version control? What's that? You get neither multiple
versions to match the product version, nor do you get any draft versioning
or change tracking.

Flare can be made to integrate with it, I think, because I think you can
upload HTML, but I'm pretty sure that to have a shot at it working right,
you'll have to get really scripty and make sure everyone names everything
just exactly so, etc. Good luck.

I think ZenDesk works fine as a front-end for all customer service and
probably for a community Q&A forum. As a repository for documents, well,
you can put a few best-practice or reference docs, but the structure they
force you into (both information structure and visual presentation
structure) really preclude having very many topics. Basically, they must
all be lined up vertically, each topic getting a thick-ish row, so that
even if you use the sections (that they require topics to go into) wisely -
anything more than 20 or so topics in a section means at least two pages of
scrolling to find your topic.

Again, not trying to bash ZenDesk. It's great for what it is. Unless
they've changed something, it's *not* a good repo for user documentation,
not in my experience.

At another place, I used ZenDesk as a Q&A customer support/community thing
and linked to it from our documentation site and vice versa. That worked
fine. Nothing's perfect, of course, but it worked.

A handy thing about ZenDesk is that it generates tickets, which can of
course be used to determine documentation needs.

My $0.02, or $0.20, maybe.
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