Re: On-Line & Manuals

Subject: Re: On-Line & Manuals
From: Jill Burgchardt <jburgcha -at- PESTILENCE -dot- ITC -dot- NRCS -dot- USDA -dot- GOV>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 08:55:41 -0700

In the discussion of single sourcing and reusing information I've
noticed something that strikes me as odd. Many people refer to
conversion of hardcopy to online, but I've never seen anyone refer to
conversion of online to hardcopy.

For those who convert one to the other or who develop hardcopy and
online as two separate items: Do you always prepare hardcopy first?
If so, why? (I do realize printed materials have a longer lead time
which dictates end-of-process schedules somewhat.) However, when
you're doing analysis and design of your documentation products, which
comes first? Why?

For the most part, I develop the online and hardcopy in parallel.
However, I find it helpful to analyze and design online first. I find
the hardcopy as well as the online has a better structure, when I do
it this way. What have the rest of you found? Why has one method
worked better for you than another?

I've written manuals for nearly 20 years and I think organizing them
has become somewhat automatic. Online design forces me to analyze
product-specific content more thoroughly than book format does. But,
does this reflect something inherent in the online medium or just the
fact that it's newer to me? If it's newness, how do we keep that fresh
edge when we move from system to system?

Jill Burgchardt
jburgcha -at- pestilence -dot- itc -dot- nrcs -dot- usda -dot- gov

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