Re: Manuals on CD-ROM

Subject: Re: Manuals on CD-ROM
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 1996 11:51:39 -0800

At 11:07 AM 1/24/96, Kent Newton wrote:
>Our company is investigating the possibility of distributing our manuals
>on CD-ROM, possibly as an adjunct to paper distribution or possibly (to
>my dismay) as a replacement for the paper distribution.

>Anyway, I was wondering if anyone on the list has had experience with
>this. Is it practical? What are the drawbacks? What should we look for
>in regards to technology? Should we approach it like on-line help with
>hyperlinks, or should we simply set it up like a manual and use a keyword
>search engine? And so on and so on and so on. In other words, I know
>nothing about it and could use all the collective advice and suggestions
>you have.

The technology you use will very much depend on the platform you're
delivering to.

I put a user manual online just before I left StarBase. The content
was identical to the paper manual, except...
* I didn't put the installation instructions online
* I didn't put the tutorial online because I didn't have the
time to restructure it and it wasn't suitable for online
as it was

That said...
I used the Win 4.0 help engine and constructed the contents topic
(with collapsable books) to replicate the table of contents in the
book. I used the same index as the book had and also provided the
generated full-text search files on the CD-ROM.

I created a separate browse sequence for each "chapter".

Where I had references to other sections or chapters in the paper
book, I used A-Links to "Related Topics".

My only other concession to the media was that I broke procedures
out of the text flow and directed them to their own windows. To make
this work, I also had to consolidate some of the transitional text
into a single topic.

I left the company shortly thereafter, and the product should be
hitting the streets just about now, so I have yet to receive
feedback from the users.

Hope this helps.

-Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com

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