Re: Manuals on CD-ROM

Subject: Re: Manuals on CD-ROM
From: Charles Good <good -at- AUR -dot- ALCATEL -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 00:15:37 GMT

There are lots of ways to convert files intended for paper publication
into CD-ROM ready files for pressing. For example, Interleaf is a
well respected desktop publishing system. They have a product called
WorldView Press that can take a set of Interleaf documents/books
and convert the auto reference tags into links, then parse the
collection into a CD-ROM ready product.

However, a lot has been written about the evils of simply converting
files for print into softbooks. Many people feel you compromise the
real power of the CD-ROM viewer/navigator, as well as short change
the customer in terms of quality of presentation and competitive
functionality. These folks advocate having a group of writers who
specialize in writing modular information that is based on an
indepth analysis of layered information flow and user interaction.

This means you have one group of writers who produce the best possible
set of books, and another group of writers who produce the best possible
CD-ROM offering. The visual cues and cross-referencing methods are
entirely different. You can even argue that people who develop
CD-ROM ready documentation should not be preparing Windows style
help systems because the emphasis and intent is entirely different from
CD-ROM documentation.

The main reason many companies do not support the multiple writing
group approach to multiple media offerings is COST! They have decided
to reach a so called "happy medium" of compromise by writing the
documentation once and relying of conversion routines and minimal
corrective intervention in order to produce everything with the
smallest possible staff and least amount of collective hours effort.

However, if you ever see the CD-ROM offering from a company that
focuses entirely on that form of documentation, it is usually
vastly superior to the CD-ROM offering from a company that uses
paper manual writers and relies on translation/tagging tools.

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