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>I would be very interested in finding out from list members what
> >is used on a daily basis to produce technical manuals. There has
> been a
> >lot of discussion on Word and its features and I am wondering whether
> >is the standard software being used at this time in most companies.
> FrameMaker is the standard for producing long, structured documents.
> It was designed specifically to fit the needs of working technical
> and offers the kind of text, layout, and typesetting control required
> produce professional-quality documents in a workgroup environment.
> For producing hypertext documents, it is a superior front end to
> also sold by Adobe. It can generate HTML, but it is not a substitute
> for a general-purpose HTML editor.
> Word is unavoidable because it is universal in business contexts.
> Technical writers often rewrite or maintain documents that circulate
> outside the tech pubs context, and most of those documents are Word
> documents. Another Word niche is RTF-based WinHelp, where
> MSW is the standard front end for the help compiler. So, most working
> writers run Word all the time--and many of us absolutely hate it.
> Whatever its merits as a general office tool, Word was not designed
> as a professional book production tool and is likely to frustrate
> trying to use it for that task.
> PageMaker and its kin are page layout tools best suited for short,
> unique documents like ads and brochures. If you're running an ad
> and need exquisite control over type and layout, then PageMaker is
> a good choice. But if you're writing bread-and-butter books, then
> Frame skills are an important part of a saleable resume.
> Shops that no longer produce much hardcopy documentation are
> a special case. After you eliminate most of your paper deliverables,
> you start to strain the limits of print-oriented products like Frame.
> As mentioned, Frame is a great tool for PDF but an awkward one for
> HTML, and Word is a miserable-but-standard tool for WinHelp. For
> Html-based WinHelp, there's no standard yet, but the source files
> are Ascii, so you can use a whole suite of commercial and homebrew
> Steve Pendleton (spendlet -at- cognex -dot- com)
> Technical Writer DeLuxe, Cognex, Acumen Products
> "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain"