Re: Online doc tools -- evaluation copies available?

Subject: Re: Online doc tools -- evaluation copies available?
From: Mary Drobnis <drobnis -at- BOSTECH -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 1996 13:38:56 EDT

Steve, you wrote:

From: Steve Osvold <shewi -at- EARTHLINK -dot- NET>
Subject: Online doc tools -- evaluation copies available?

I'm posting this for a friend; please reply to her at shauglan -at- gps -dot- com or to
the list. Thanks!

The technical writing department I'm in uses only the Windows help compiler
and a variety of Word for Windows macros to create online help. I'd like to
take a look at and get some experience with other tools, such as RoboHelp;
does anyone have suggestions for how to do that without purchasing the whole
package myself?

Here are a few things me and some of my "cheap" friends have done to get
experience on other software packages:

1)Join the local computer society and make use of their software library.

2)Get your department to buy the package (granted, this is a long shot).
Some of the larger companies I've worked for have had libraries with both
books and software packages, but usually the packages are the kind that
come on 5 1/4" disks, run on 286 processors, and say "DOS" on the box...

3)Borrow someone else's copy and use it for a while. (I learned Word 6.0
this way.)

4)Find out which of your friends works for a company where that package
is used. See if they will have you over after work sometime to give you
a demo and let you try it out. (I'm an Interleaf user who is learning
Frame Maker this way. Of course I would return the favor, but the friend
already knows Interleaf. So I promised to help her move instead :< )

5)Become a contractor and talk your way into a job where that package is
used so you can get some experience on it. (I learned Doc-to-Help this
way. Luckily, I already knew Word 6.0!)

6)Buy the package at a software store that will let you return it (involves
cash or credit card, and saving a receipt - difficult at best).

7)Get together with a few of your friends who also want to learn that
package and share the cost of it (granted, you will have to fight over
who gets to keep it afterward).

8)Take an inexpensive course through Community Education to get a feel
for the package's features. (This only works if a) your town offers community
education, b) a course on the package of your choice is being offered,
c) you have the time and money to take the course, and d) you can find
someone to walk your dog after work on those nights. :>Luckily, I don't
have a dog).

9)Send out a shotgun email to the QA or R&D groups to see if any of those
people have it and would let you borrow it. This sometimes works for technical
books, too. (Yes, in return for the favor, I have had to promise to help them
with their resumes or edit their whitepapers. There is no free lunch...)

Good luck and don't give up-

drobnis -at- bostech -dot- com

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