Re: Developing Online Docs

Subject: Re: Developing Online Docs
From: Beryl Doane <BDoane -at- ENGPO -dot- MSMAILGW -dot- INTERMEC -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 22 Mar 1996 16:44:00 PST

Additional considerations that I left out of my first email:

Our company makes bar code scanners, printers, hand-held
386-based bc readers, network hardware, RF networks, and
some software. It is possible for a user or technician to need
technical information without having access to a PC with
an HTML viewer or Acrobat.

For example, the 386-based readers have only a 20-column
by 16-row character display. They do not run Windows. The
end user is often not a system administrator, but is an
operator. The host machine can be a mainframe or a GUI
PC, but it may be in a different building. Our products
are industrial-grade, designed for warehouse and manufacturing
facilities, although they are used in systems with AS/400, HP-UX,
SCO-UNIX, OS/2, and Windows computers.

How well do we serve our customers if we require them to
locate a computer with the correct software to learn how to
replace the battery pack for a portable scanner?
Or if we require the user to start up Netscape on a PC to review the
instructions for replacing a thermal transfer ribbon in a printer?

Our department has experience with online help for our software
products. We have no real problem with developing the help
into a full online doc. It's docs for products that run without a PC,
or remotely from the host, that are difficult to transform into
an online doc.

So, the big question remains: how do I meet user needs, department
requests, maintain our current staff size, put the docs online for
both controlled viewing/printing and legitimate translating/customizing,
and continue providing printed manuals?

Beryl Doane
Senior Technical Writer
bdoane -at- intermec -dot- com

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