QUERY: Baby steps to Windows online help

Subject: QUERY: Baby steps to Windows online help
From: Patty Ewy <pewy -at- ICONTROL -dot- ANZA -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 31 Jul 1996 16:35:25 -0600

Greetings 'whirlers!

I work for a third-party software development company. Until recently, the only
role the tech writers here have had in the development of our online help is to
export the text from our PageMaker files.

The development staff works minimally with that text (runs a few macros to
check for certain characters and so on) and then cuts and pastes the text into the
online help windows. (This online help is not Windows-style. There's no
hypertext links, no search engine, no index function.) The help window is a sort
of filing card system: click a tab to read an overview of the window, another tab
to read the steps involved in the basic processes, and another tab to enter your
own notes about the window.

Now we need to get our feet wet in the Windows-style help. But where to start?
Our product is immense (more than 100 "major" windows, with lots and lots of
inquiry and lookup windows). Our tech writing team works on Macs (the rest of
the development staff is on PCs). All our text is in PageMaker files. And while
we have a developer who has spent sometime looking into options that are
available to us for developing the online help system, the development staff is
keen to give the entire project to the tech writers. We have no tech writers
with any online help experience.

If you were in this leaky boat, what's the first step you'd take? Just send
someone off to a training seminar? (Or do they expect you to have a pretty good
idea of the help tool before you get there?)

Thanks for all advice!

Patty Ewy
pewy -at- icontrol -dot- anza -dot- com

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