TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
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
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.
techwriter & jewelrymaker
apeacock -at- wolfenet -dot- com