Which is first: online or paper?

Subject: Which is first: online or paper?
From: Alexander Von_obert <avobert -at- TWH -dot- MSN -dot- SUB -dot- ORG>
Date: Sat, 9 Mar 1996 10:58:01 +0100

Hello Jane,


* Antwort auf eine Nachricht von Jane Bergen an All am 03.03.96

JB> From: Jane Bergen <janeb -at- airmail -dot- net>

JB> Just curious.... how many of you who write both online and
JB> paper docs for the same software

my normal way is online - paper - online.

First, I do a dummy help system for the programmers. For this stage I prefer a
shareware tool called Visual Help (VH.ZIP on CICA). From start to end I need
about one hour for 50 topics and every topic contains nothing else but its
context ID. Visual Help provides an index that we can use to jump directly to
any topic.

This help system helps everyone:

- The programmers can test the help functions of their programs.
- I see where which topic is called.
- If the programmers cannot call a topic, they have either made
an error or called a topic they did not tell me about.

After that I try to get some idea what the program is about. From that I do
things like first steps and basic concepts. These parts tend to be fixed quite
early and should become part of the paper documentation.

Then I might start with the real help system. This gets some mixture of
top-down and bottom-up design, starting with those parts of the program that
might freeze first.

Technically speaking, you might have to finish paper first as the printer
needs some time, too. Very much work on the help system cannot be done before
the general program freeze. As long as the programmers may change their basic
"classes" (see object-oriented software developement) you simply can forget to
do any screenshots and might have a hard time to find all changes related to
the change of a single class.

You see hardly any trace of "both media from a single source". Maybe some SGML
system might be able to do that. But in the meantime the user's needs are
quite different when looking at the manual and into online help.



Greetings from Germany,
Alexander

--
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