Online help and HTML

Subject: Online help and HTML
From: "M. David Orr" <whitears -at- INTERACCESS -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 09:56:57 -0600

Jennifer O'Neill wrote:

>The brief I've been presented with is to produce a set of manuals
>* are online
>* the installer can easily print out only those parts which apply to >the
>system that's being installed and then give this printout to the
>customer to keep (the final customer will not need the info online, but
>only on paper) but the printout should look good
>* the installer's company can easily change the company logo in the
>online manual
>* the installer's company can select those features of the security
>system explained online that they actually install before giving the
>online help to the installer to use (not all companies use all of our
>features and want to delete/ignore those they don't use)
>* the printed out manual has a table of contents (heaven knows what
>happens for an index)
>* the installer doesn't have to learn some complicated software to do
>all of this. The software most of them are familiar with is Word6.


One of our clients has a similar problem. They need to provide
customized documentation for programmable products. Their customers can
buy subsets of features, so the client needs to provide documentation
just containing the features the customers buy.

We created a document customization database toolkit for them. With this
toolkit, they can scan existing Word 6 documents into a database topic
by topic or procedure by procedure, or they can enter the topics and
procedures and instructor notes, if necessary, manually into the
database. Graphics can also be attached to any topic or procedure.

All topics and procedures related to the product and stored in the
database in plain text paragraphs. The user of the toolkit can see a
list of the topics and select any s/he wants to use for a particular
customer or user group. The toolkit user can then map the topic headings
and other common elements to any word template and drop the text into
the template. The formatting is automatic. Further customization can be
done manually in Word. (For more information on this tool, see our
Website at under Products and Services.)

Getting the material online is just a matter of running it through an
HTML conversion program (minutes) or through a windows help converter.
Programs like RoboHelp and Doc to Help have these utilities. For custom
authoring in HTML, MS Front Page is good because you don't have to know
coding. It has the disadvantage of being NT-based,instead of UNIX, but
internet service providers can help bridge the gap with spot programming
if necessary. Some of them have NT servers already.
M. David Orr
Orr & Associates/Usability Management
7366 N. Lincoln Ave. Suite 101
Lincolnwood, Illinois 60646, USA
Phone: 847-677-1920
Fax: 847-677-7878
Email: whitears -at- orrnet -dot- com

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