Tools for creating online manuals

Subject: Tools for creating online manuals
From: Ian Spira <ispira -at- CCGATE -dot- HAC -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 17 Oct 1996 12:48:54 PST


My company is contemplating creating a series of online technical manuals to
supplement our paper based documents. I'm interested in hearing from anyone
with experience in creating both forms of documentation.

What tools do you use for creating the online manuals?

I'm not looking for a low end page-turner (such as Adobe Acrobat) nor a full
multimedia system complete with video, stereo sound, and glitz.

I am interested in creating documents specifically for online viewing.
Ideally, the system should:

- support large documents or document sets

- work on multiple platforms (Windows, Windows NT, UNIX)

- support complex tables and hot-spot graphics

- support complex navigation methods such as hypertext,
full indexes, table of contents, text searches

- use SGML or some other standard format, not some proprietary format. We
will be creating both paper & online documents and need to swap info back &
forth easily, whether it's "single source" (as with SGML) or through reliable
import/export facilities.

- support user annotation, i.e., the user can add electronic post-it notes,
create book marks, highlight the text or add hypertext links. We should be able
to collect this information from our users. Ideally these notes would still be
intact and valid after the user has updated the original online document

- support multiple language sets (we may be delivering English & translated
documents to Europe and Asia)

Some of the systems I've heard of include FolioViews, SoftQuad Explorer, HAL
Olias, or EBT DynaText. (I'm also familiar with Microsoft Help & HTML viewers
like Netscape Navigator, but don't think they are robust enough.)

If you have experience with these or other products (or can point me to any
FAQs, web sites, e-mail discussion groups or other sources) please write. If
you write directly to me I will post a summary on the list.

Ian Spira
ispira -at- ccgate -dot- hac -dot- com

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