Summary: Documentation on CD-ROM

Subject: Summary: Documentation on CD-ROM
From: Reinhard Jaehnig <jaehnig_reinhard_rej-d -at- BETASYSTEMS -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998 22:46:17 UT

A good week ago I asked several questions relating to publishing
hardcopy and softcopy documentation. I received four replies --
Many thanks to all who replied.

The gist of it is:

- In one instance, a PDF-based CD-ROM has replaced paper
documentation. The others provide hardcopy and softcopy
documentation concurrently.

- The several formats get out of sync because updated
paper documentation is provided less frequently than
updated CD-ROMs. Completely up-to-date documentation
is made available via the web.

Following are extracts from the messages I received in reply
to my post.



Q How many publishing methods do you use concurrently, for example,
paper, CD-ROM, internet. Do you try to keep them in sync ?

A Paper, CD-ROM (Acrobat), WinHelp, and HTML

Q How often do you provide updates for the CD-ROM ?

A Monthly

Q How often do you provide updates for the paper manuals ?

A One manual set for every 'integer' release (1.0, 2.0, 3.0,
etc...). 'dot' releases (4.1, 4.2, etc...) are done via PDF
on CD.

Q If your CD-ROM contains manuals for different products, does
each customer have access to all documents or only to the
documents for his product ?

A Our 'product' is a suite, of which all components may or may
not be used. But we supply all documentation on all CDs. Reason?
Think of it as a 'sneak prevue' for parts of the application the
clients are not currently using but might be interested in.


We recently began publishing our product documentation on CD-ROM.
Previously we sent out hard copies; this was time-consuming, wasteful,
and expensive! Now whenever we send out product to a customer or an
upgrade to an existing customer, we include a CD with all the product
documentation. The customer selects which documentation they would
like to install, depending on which products they have purchased;
all the documentation is available on the CD however. The CDs are
updated with each version, approximately 3 times a year.

The files are in PDF format. Users can install the PDF files on their
hard drive or network, or print a copy if they prefer. We hope to
include a Fast Fixes, FAQ, etc. page on our website, but it's still in
development. I doubt that we will ever include all our documentation
on the web.


We simultaneously publish to hard copy, online help, Internet, and

We author in Framemaker and use a variety of tools to publish to the
different sources (WebWorks/WebHelp creates HTML-based online help;
Documentum publishes to Internet and CD-ROM.)

The CD-ROM is updated monthly with any changes that writers have
published. The manuals are updated only with major product releases.
Internet can be updated daily if desired; it's all automated.


We're a huge company with lots of people and money invested in all
these pieces. It's not an inexpensive solution.

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