TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
I am feeling rather overwhelmed. Hopefully, some advice from the list
will help me to feel a little more confident in pursuing my present project.
I have just inherited the documentation for a totally configurable software
application (large and expensive, intended for hospitals). This program
is, like, the most un-shrinkwrapped software I've ever seen.
Fact #1: The hospital is given the source code for the online and paper
documentation. We have to make both easy for them to configure
according to the way they set up the software.
Fact #2: The hospital can choose whether or not to use whole modules.
Okay, that's not too hard to document, I guess.
Fact #3: The hospital can choose parts and pieces of modules. Things are
Fact #4: The hospital can actually change captions on dialog boxes. They
can change the names of dialogs. They can choose what types of
controls to use on the dialogs (such as list box vs. drop-down
list box). WHAT?!?!
Long List of Questions
Have any of you tackled this type of project?
If so, what techniques/conventions did you use/follow?
How did you determine where your duties left off and the purchasing
How did you handle upgrades to the documentation so that they didn't
overwrite the work that the purchaser made?
How did you make it easier for the purchasing agency to modify the source?
How did you organize your files?
How did you handle descriptions of dialogs without using graphics?
When did you use graphics, even though they wouldn't match what the user
Did your company provide technical support for documentation modification?
If so, what kind of person took those calls?
Did you find any software that made the project easier?
Thanks to anyone who can offer any kind of assistance on this. If you
have answers to questions that I hadn't even thought to ask, yet, please
feel free to include them in any responses. If anyone is interested in
how I solve any of these problems, let me know, and I will summarize
either to the list, or to a list of individuals.