Re: Planning before writing on-line help

Subject: Re: Planning before writing on-line help
From: David Reichelt <reichelt -at- ACEC -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 4 Mar 1994 11:26:46 EST

On Thu, 3 Mar 1994 17:36:05 -0600 LaVonna Funkhouser wrote:

> I've seen some discussion about on-line doc packages and
> how on-line docs are made, but I was wondering what planning
> process you go through before you begin to write on-line
> help. (I will be writing in RoboHelp and then transferring
> the file into HyperHelp. Don't ask why; this was already
> decided.)

Like many of you, our company is also in the process of developing on-line help.
I recently attended a seminar on developing on-line help which was sponsered
by the University of Washington. The seminar was conducted by David Farkas
and Joe Welinske, two of the authors of the book, "Developing Online Help for
Windows". BTW, I would highly recommend this book ... its helped us get
started. Anyway, somethings to do and/or keep in mind:

o Look at some good help systems already on the market (e.g., Microsoft Word,
Excel, Publisher).

o Figure out what topics will comprise the contents (e.g., procedures,
commands, error messages, field definitions).

o Use graphics sparingly to keep the help file size manageable; but use enough
graphics to make the help system attractive as well as functional.

o Decide on such things as browse sequences, search keywords.

The book I mentioned gives far more details and suggestions. BTW, we are also
using RoboHelp. Except for some occassional memory errors during
compilation, we like it.

David Reichelt
American Computer & Electronics

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