single source docs (rather long)

Subject: single source docs (rather long)
From: Fionnuala Broughan <FB -at- POINTDUBLIN -dot- CCMAIL -dot- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 1995 04:56:37 EST


Sorry if this is dredging up an old topic again, but here is a problem
that I'm sure some of you will recognise:

We (a software company) have recently made the decision to augment the
way we distribute our docs, both marketing and technical.

Currently our docs are created in Word 6.0, turned into online help
with Doc-to-Help, and printed on 18X23cm paper.

In the future we want to:

continue printing on paper

provide the docs on CD-ROM, converting them to .PDF files first using
Adobe Acrobat, giving our customers the ability to print what they
need when they need it

provide some of the docs at a Web site, perhaps using .PDF files,
perhaps tagging some of them with HTML (depends on the docs, "living"
docs will be HTML-enabled, less changeable docs will remain as .PDF

Another dimension to this issue is that our software is a
cross-platform product that appears and behaves almost exactly the
same in different GUI environments; this means that several of the
docs can have essentially the same text but need different screen

You can see how useful single-source docs would be. Here are a few
problems though

if we provide .PDF files to customers, we have no control over the
final product, and, at the very least, 18X23 pages printed onto A4 or
B5 paper will look rather strange

some of the docs can be provided on the Web, other more sensitive ones
cannot. Some of the docs have large graphics that may be difficult to
display with some browsers (one possible solution is to have
"call-outs" to figures that we provide on CD, but then we have to
convert the files to HTML files?)

and so on and so on.

ANY ideas, insights, opinions, experiences, anecdotes on these issues
are most welcome.

many thanks,
Fionnuala Broughan
fb -at- pointdublin -dot- ccmail -dot- compuserve -dot- com

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