Re: Word to on-line or Frame to on-line

Subject: Re: Word to on-line or Frame to on-line
From: "Michael A. Lewis" <lewism -at- BRANDLE -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Wed, 22 Oct 1997 09:52:17 +1000

> >>>>>>>
> >Is it best to continue managing my large docs in Word and develop online
> >material from there, or to move all the docs to Frame and develop online
> >material from there.
> >
> >Also, can someone define for me on-line help versus on-line
> >documentation? Or point me to a good source so I can educate myself?
> ><<<<<<<
Scott Miller wrote:
> >
> >With Word, you have an easy path to online help, since a lot of help
> >authoring tools use Word as the text editor. It's possible to go from Frame
> >to RTF to online help, but tricky.

There's another angle here, usually more relevant to on-line
documentation than to help: you may be working with base material
provided by users or SMEs, and they will probably be more comfortable
with Word than with Frame. See further below.

> >As for the difference between online help and online documentation... Online
> >help is typically tied to a software application, and tells the user how to
> >accomplish their goals when using that software application.
> >Online documentation is typically not tied to a single application, but is
> >more wide in scope. A typical online documentation implementation is
> >something like all of the technical reference, user's guide, installation
> >guides, etc. for a suite of products. Online documentation typically includes
> >some sort of full-text search mechanism such as the Verity search engine or
> >Personal Librarian. It's more like a bunch o' books on a CD-ROM. When you
> >have a ton of stuff to document, a whole shelf full of books, online
> >documentation is very effective, if the search engine is good and (MOST
> >IMPORTANT) if the documentation is organized in a way to make it work online,
> >as opposed to printed.
> >
> >Choosing a search engine is a huge topic, although I've been out of the
> >online documentation loop for a while, so maybe there is a clear-cut winner
> >out there. Once you have chosen the search engine that is appropriate for
> >your documentation, it will be easier to decide on the tool to produce it
> >(Word or Frame).

Unlike help, on-line documentation doesn't have to be about applications
at all. I've been involved in projects where the client has large and /
or widely spread material, such as human resource management policies
and procedures, which they want to make more accessible to managers and
staff. Depending on the client's set up, I've done conversions to
WinHelp and to intranet web pages. CD is another possibility that I
haven't yet touched.

In most of these cases, the source documents are maintained by "owners",
and my role has been to make only such structural changes as are
required for conversion, including the addition of navigation and access
aids. In some cases, I've handed the converted job back to the client;
they have obtained their own licences for the conversion tools; and I've
never seen them again. In other cases, they come back to me periodically
for reconversion of updated material.

Time for another plug for my favorite combination of tools: HDK can
provide or generate comprehensive full-text search facilities -- I've
never needed to hook in a third-party search engine. (I think I'm going
to ask Virtual Media for commission ...)
Michael Lewis
Brandle Pty Limited
PO Box 1249
Strawberry Hills, NSW 2012

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