Documentation Group needs advice!

Subject: Documentation Group needs advice!
From: "Marlene J. Geary" <marlene -at- NECA -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 3 Jan 1997 10:33:22 -0500

>Subject: Documentation Group needs advice!
>Hello - I work for a small company in Farmington, CT, USA, in a
>Documentation Group that consists of two people. Our company produces a
>large, modular software product for industrial distibutors (mainly the fluid
>power industry). Our documentation has traditionally been written in an
>in-house, character-based, circa 1975 part of that software. Our group
>offers approximately 70 manuals on the different features of the product,
>and each manual ranges from 100-200 pages long. The word processor we use
>does not have any "advanced" features such as indexing, spell checking,
>table creation, hyper-text linkage, page breaks, etc. We manually create
>the table of contents for each book, print each page on our laser printers,
>and use the copier to distribute the documentation. Needless to say,
>creating and editing documentation in this environment is extraordinarily
>time-consuming. The company's number one customer "dissatisfier" is
>On 12/31/96, our group was given the go-ahead to move to an IBM-compatible,
>PC-Based platform to use for developing future documentation. Our existing
>documentation, which exists as text-only files on a Unix machine, will be
>converted into the software that we choose. Future documentation will most
>likely be distributed in electronic form, perhaps available for encrypted
>download to customers, or in CD-ROM format. That is undecided as yet.
>We've done some marginal research into packages that will suit our needs,
>but we'd like to find out from the technical writing industry what other
>writers are using. Then, my co-worker remembered an article about this list
>in the Society for Technical Communicators magazine from early in 1996. So,
>here we are!
>For desktop publishing, we need something that will more easily handle large
>documents, as we plan to combine groups of the manuals we have together.
>We've pretty much come to the conclusion that we'll need both a word
>processing and destop publishing package. First question - Does anyone out
>there use one software package for both?
>We've narrowed down the list of word processors to Word 7.0, but can anyone
>recommend anything better? Are there serious drawbacks to using Word as our
>word processor?
>In terms of a desktop publishing package, we're trying to decide between
>Pagemaker and Framemaker. Framemaker advertises itself as also being an
>in-depth word processor. True? Are there listers out there who use
>Framemaker? Can you let me know about drawbacks/plusses?
>Next, we also need a package which will handle a library - we haven't yet
>begun research on this, but if anyone's using something, can you let us know
>what it is and why you like it?
>Thanks for reading through this message! We're very excited about "moving
>into reality!"
>Please respond, if possible, to my e-mail address. (I don't want to clog up
>the list) Thanks so much for your input.
>Marlene J. Geary
>marlene -at- neca -dot- com

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