Re: documentation on the WWW

Subject: Re: documentation on the WWW
From: Chet Ensign <censign -at- INTERSERV -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 3 Oct 1996 06:58:53 -0700

John Engler writes:

>> We've recently been considering making the documentation
available on the WWW (we found out about half our clients have WWW access). <<

>> We've thought that accessing the WWW every time you want to read
documentation
could be annoying. ... Part of the point is that we think that many of the
every-day users still don't have access to the documentation for that very
reason <<

I am finishing up a document database for semiconductor datasheets and
technical manuals. Your question prompted me to take a look at the server log
file. Except for me and the client, there are very few people pulling down the
PDF files.

Think about some of the advantages to your customers of having access to
Web-based documentation. If they are away from their desk, if they can't find
the manual, if they are out on the road or working from home, if their manual
is out of date.... They have an available option. And think about all those
techncial addendums, etc. that you could make immediately available. I
remember seeing an email from a Novell VAR who said "I used to have to try to
guess which of the 20+ binders I should take along on service calls. Now I
just take my laptop and get to the documentation I need over the Web." Big
added value for customers.

Novell has put technical documentation online. So has Sybase -- another
software manufacturer that I'm familiar with.

>> We've never done HTML conversions so the learning curve could
be pretty steep. <<

Then you might want to check out the product that I have been using for my
project. BASISplus and WEBserver from Information Dimensions
(www.idi.oclc.org). They have converters that will store common word
processing/desktop publishing formats in the database in a form that can be
served up over the Web without having to recode the files. I'm not familiar
with that part of the product -- I haven't used it -- but I saw a
demonstration of it and it looked pretty powerful.

Best regards,

/chet


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