Re: Help file annotations on network drives

Subject: Re: Help file annotations on network drives
From: "Wing, Michael J" <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 1997 14:32:20 -0500

> I found out that when you add an annotation to a help file located on
> a
> network drive, the annotation saves only to the local machine and is
> not
> viewable by other viewers of the help file from other workstations. My
> question is how can I get the annotation to save to a single file on
> the
> network drive so that everybody can view notes in the help file from
> each other? We're on NT 4.
> I would like to do this for two different reasons:
> 1. This seems like a good way for other people in my company to
> internally review my help file and add their own suggestions on
> certain
> help topics.
> 2. The Help file will eventually reside on a network drive at the
> customer's site. I would like the site administrator to be able to add
> their own SOP's to my help file that all operators can view when they
> open the help file on their local workstations.
> Thanks,
> Walter Jones
> walterj -at- tritech -dot- com
If I've got this right, the .ann file (annotations file) resides on the
local machine of the person doing the annotating. I think this is true
regardless of whether the help file is on the local machine or on a
shared network drive. If this is true, then multiple reviewers cannot
make entries into a single annotation file unless they do so from the
same machine. Otherwise, to work on a single annotations file, the help
file and the annotations file would have to be copied to each local
machine. This means that reviewers would have to make annotations
sequentially rather than concurrently. After each reviewer adds
comments they would forward the help file and the annotations file to
the next reviewer. This is a bottleneck begging to happen.

Furthermore, I believe that the annotation file is only good for a
specific compilation of the help. If you recompile, the annotation file
is not read by WinHelp. Therefore, all annotations would have to be
created and implemented before recompiling help or you would have to
manage multiple copies of the reviewed version and make changes from

I did try the annotation route on a help project. The reviewers hated
it. They had to cut and paste the text to correct and then type in the
changes. Furthermore, if the corrected text was extensive, there is no
redline capability for the annotations. Because of the aforementioned
problems with the annotation file, you may end up with multiple versions
of the help file and annotation files (one per reviewer). Trying to
juggle these files may get confusing. Also, you have to single step
through the topics to find the annotations (you could get creative with
a text editor and decipher the annotation file through it). Try this
with 5 review copies of a 2000 topic help file.

I mainly use the annotation (if I use it at all) to make comments for
myself about possible improvements and/or corrections to the topic.


Michael Wing (mailto:mjwing -at- ingr -dot- com)
Principal Technical Writer
Intergraph Corporation; Huntsville, Alabama
(205) 730-7250

"So also the tongue is a small part of the body; and yet it boasts of
great things. Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small

-- James 3:5

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