Two Questions: Lotus Domino & Role of Communicators

Subject: Two Questions: Lotus Domino & Role of Communicators
From: Preeti Mathur <pmathur -at- TSI -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 1997 16:32:04 -0500

Greetings!

I'm seeking your collective views and opinions on a couple of issues:

1. Has anyone had any experience with Lotus Domino? I'd appreciate hearing
how it is working for you.

Here is my situation:
The MIS dept. in my company is developing our Intranet using Lotus Domino.
They have started putting information
on the server that can be accessed through either a Netscape or an Internet
Explorer browser or through a Lotus Notes Browser.
However, any authoring has to be done in Lotus Notes. The division that I
write manuals for does not use Lotus Notes
and I'm not familiar with it at all. I'd like to start putting out
information such as manuals, manual templates and style guides
which are all currently in MS Word. From what I understand for people to
access this information through a browser, I'd either have
to convert the information to the Lotus Notes format (.NSF) or have them
download the files as a Word document.

In the former case, files can be viewed and printed directly through the
browser but it'll mean
converting hundreds of pages to the .NSF format. In my opinion that is
duplicating our work load
and the conversion apparently is not smooth at all. If I have to convert,
I'd rather convert to HTML.

The latter seems more feasible as almost 100% of the users have MS Word. The
user however, has to go through a two-step process--download and then print
or view the file through MS Word. On the other hand, they (esp. our off-site
employees in Germany) may not mind it because it'll be easier to access the
information.

I'd like to know what you folks are doing with manuals on the Intranet.
Are they in PDF or are you converting them to HTML? What tools are you using?

( BTW, I'm the only full-time technical writer in the company. The other
divisions in the company employ contractors or have their engineers write
the manuals).


2. What role do you think we communicators should be playing with today's
technology making it easy for everybody to put information up on the
Internet or the Intranet?

The results of this are pretty apparent--use of all caps, writing not
conducive to online reading etc. etc. My company places our engineers on a
pedestal. Even though we are there to provide these services, some divisions
in my company insist that engineers write their own manuals (after all they
know the product best), write for brochures (they know the customers are
like them) and write for the Web. I feel the situation is quite like when
desktop publishing made everyone a designer and we began to see
announcements et al that looked like "ransom notes." Rather than rave and
rant about the matter, I'd like to take a pro-active role. However, making
them go through my department will simply not happen. One of the suggestions
I've made to my manager is we put some guidelines on our Intranet on how
information should be developed and presented.

Is this situation unique to us? If not, how are you all handling this
situation? What do you think about our roles as these technologies advance?

Thanks for sharing! I promise to summarize the responses.

Preeti

____________________________________
Preeti Mathur
Marketing Communications
TSI Inc. P.O. Box 64394
St Paul, MN 55164-0394 USA
Phone: (612) 490-2805 Fax: (612) 490-3824
email:pmathur -at- tsi -dot- com
WWW: http://www.tsi.com
______________________________________

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