Re: Feasibility of WinWord for a large pjt (long)

Subject: Re: Feasibility of WinWord for a large pjt (long)
From: Kent Newton <kentn -at- METRIX-INC -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 7 May 1996 21:25:00 PDT

On Tuesday, May 07, 1996 7:13 PM, Gen Whitt wrote:
>I have a large project (700-page manual) which was created in Ventura
>Publisher. It has approx. 35 chapters and includes around 350 PCX
>files.
<snipped>
>My primary concern is whether it is really feasible to use Word for
>such a large documentation project.
<snipped>
>Microsoft told me that I would have to bring all files together in
>order to have page numbering throughout and a publication table of
>contents and index. Their maximum Word file size is 32 MB so, since
>10 PCX files added to a document add approximately 1MB (by
>experimentation) I conclude that with 350 PCX files, this would not
>be possible. I also know, though, that there's a workaround to most
>problems.
<snipped>
>I would really appreciate:

>a) any specific experience/data, positive or negative, on creating or
>maintaining large manuals which include lots of graphics, in WinWord

>b) any other suggestions/data on alternative solutions, given that
>the problem I am trying to solve is one source for doc and help -
>maximum efficiency without reducing the effectiveness of either the
>written documentation or the on-line help text.

I have maintained a very large manual using only Word 6. How large?
Seventy-four chapters, 1200+ pages, nine separate TOCs, an index, and
tons of graphics. In toto, the manual is about 159 MB. It is
troublesome and I don't have all the features I would like, but it can be
done.

First, you do not have to put all the chapters into one file. In fact, I
would advise against it strongly. I maintain each chapter as a separate
file. I keep all the files in one directory, however.

Second, you can reduce the file size by importing the graphics by
reference instead of inserting them into the files. I don't do this, but
it can be done, and it will reduce the file size. Again, it would help
if you kept the graphics files in the same directory as (or at least a
sub-directory of) the manual files.

Third, you can create TOCs and Indexes in separate files by using the
reference document field (RD). This is a carry over from Word 2 and
still works fine in Word 6. Simply put, you reference all the manual
files you want to include in the TOC or Index using the RD field. You
then insert a TOC or Index just as you normally would. One caveat: you
must be sure either that Word is pointing to the directory in which the
files are kept or that the RD field contains the full path to the files;
otherwise, you will get an error when you try to generate the TOC or
Index. For details, check your on-line help.

Fourth, you have two options for dealing with page numbers. One is labor
intensive; the other is easy but somewhat clunky. The labor intensive
option involves manually setting the starting page number of each chapter
to the last page number of the previous chapter plus one. This requires
that you know the last page number of each file. If a file repaginates,
all the following chapters' page numbers could be wrong. The clunky
option involves numbering each chapter using the Heading Numbering
feature and then including the heading number in the page number. In
this way, you can start each chapter with page one; they are
distinguished by the chapter number: 1-1, 2-1, 3-1, 12-1, 31-1, and so
on. This does require that you manually set the heading number for each
chapter, but this is less likely to need changing than page numbers.

Fifth, as I said earlier, this way of handling large manuals does lack
some functionality I would like to have. Primary example:
cross-references between chapters. You will not be able insert automatic
references from chapter 1 to chapter 2, for example. To handle this, I
would simply say something like "For more details, please refer to
chapter 2," or, "For detailed instructions, please refer to the topic
'Assigning a Request' in the chapter 'Assignments.' " Not the most
elegant, but it works. I'm sure there are other features that may be
lost, but this is the one that sticks out most notably.

Finally, just as a side note, we are converting our manuals to
Framemaker. We will follow the same basic plan in Framemaker, however,
it allows us to use cross-references between chapters.

I hope this gives you an idea of what is involved in maintaining large
manuals in Word. If you have any more questions, you can email me
directly.

Kent Newton
Senior Technical Writer
Metrix, Inc.
kentn -at- metrix-inc -dot- com

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