Yet another Newbie question...

Subject: Yet another Newbie question...
From: "Amy G. Peacock" <apeacock -at- WOLFENET -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 1 May 1998 12:06:05 -0700

I have a couple of questions. First, if anyone has any suggestions on
what keywords to use when I search the archives concerning the
following problems, I would be very appreciative.

Second, I work for a company that writes and uses its own
applications. I am the sole techwriter. I am new at techwriting and I
don't have a degree (boy, do they have faith in me or what?!) I find
that learning the programs and then writing about them is not a
problem for me. I am still working on my interviewing skills - my
problem is that I usually don't know what to ask.

That said, I have three tools at my disposal right now: Word,
FrontPage, and PageMaker. There is also the possibility of using
RoboHelp - more on that in a minute.

When I was first hired I did a document in Page Maker (a tool that I
don't know very well but like quite a bit) because it has export to
HTML capabilities and
it is a nice layout tool. I really did think that PM was the way to
go, given my options. My primary task was/is to create online help
(help for the users that could be accessed on the company intranet).
But when I exported the doc from PM, the web version wasn't very
pretty (the print version was good) so my boss wanted me to do the
next project using a different tool.

So for the next project I used (am using) Front Page. I find it to be
to a nice tool that does some cool stuff with a few annoying
attributes. Now I have a doc that looks good on the web but not good
in print.

I spent yesterday cutting and pasting one of the docs from FP into
Word to see what would happen. I suppose I could manage reformatting
the doc and 'fixing' the broken screen shots - but, as you can see,
this leaves me with two separate documents - one in FP and one in
Word. We all know hard it is to maintain two documents...even me, and
I haven't been doing this very long.

I don't know much about RoboHelp or WinHelp or any of the other
tools that get discussed on the list. My boss (who wants to develop my
HTML/online and context sensitive help skills) has led me to believe
that RoboHelp (which we have a copy of) has a steep learning curve and
that he wants me to be writing and not learning a new tool.

I have another boss who wants us to have nice printed docs; he
believes these to be just as important as the web version we will
have. I want to do both - and I want a tool that will let me do both
with minimal frustration (is there such a thing?).

I think that RoboHelp (or some other tool) is probably the way to go -
convincing my boss to let me learn it (spend company time and $ to do
so) is quite another.

Right now I feel like I am being pulled in two directions without the
proper tools to do either type of documentation well.

Again, I will be more than happy to do some searching on my own in the
tech archives or out there on the internet, but I am not sure what to
look for, what keywords to use so that I am not bombarded by thousands
of possibilities. Or, if anyone has had a similar experience and been
able to resolve it, I would love some input/information.

Thanks for reading my long-winded post!
Please email me directly and I will post a summary if appropriate.

Amy Peacock
techwriter & jewelrymaker
apeacock -at- wolfenet -dot- com

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