Online publication systems

Subject: Online publication systems
From: Deb Carnegie <deb -at- SYMBOLOGIC -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 3 Dec 1993 12:05:00 P

I posted a note a few weeks ago about my predicament with developing an
online system and received some great advice from the group. This project
seems to have grown into an entirely different beast, rather than becoming
more refined, and so I'm hoping that someone may have some thoughts or

(apologies in advance for the length of this message)

Here is the situation:

As I mentioned previously, I'm currently in the position of developing a new
documentation set entirely from scratch. There is no existing documentation
to model after, and I am responsible for defining style, content and
delivery. One requirement is that the bulk of the information be delivered
entirely online. This is both a business requirement (saves $$ on printing
and packaging) as well as a customer one. (I recently conducted a user
survey and the majority of customers prefer online documentation, with the
caveat that it have excellent search and retrieval functionality).

I'm also very interested in the idea of having a combined documentation and
training organization, and having materials come from this "single source"
of knowledge. If the writer knows the material well-enough to write the
books, shouldn' t they know how to teach the material? The information is
the same, it's only the approach that's different.

The new scope of this project is related to this idea of a having a single
source of information. We (my manager and I) would like to create an online
publications/"knowledge" system that will serve as a single source of
product knowledge but where the documentation, training materials, support
information, marketing communications can all be generated from this
knowledge base. The information is the same; the "views" of it are
different. Possibly also tied into this is the potential to easily create
customized documentation for different customers/users.

I recognize that this is going to be an extremely complicated and expensive
project, and I am only beginning to scope it out further and realize the
many issues that will be involved. Does anyone know of other companies
that may have developed similar systems ? (I imagine that this may be
similar in some ways to SGI's Iris Insight)

Thanks for any thoughts-

Debra Carnegie
Symbologic Corporation
deb -at- symbologic -dot- com

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