Distributing doc source files - thoughts?

Subject: Distributing doc source files - thoughts?
From: David G Skoglund <skogl004 -at- TC -dot- UMN -dot- EDU>
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 15:13:46 -0600

Some background: My company recently merged the training and documentation
teams. As part of this effort we're merging the training manuals and
procedure manuals into a new format to reduce duplication of effort. The
result of that merge is currently in process.

Under the old system the source files for the training manuals were
distributed to the training people in the field so that they could
customise them to their particular instruction needs/styles. The training
manuals were developed in Microsoft Word. The documentation group has
recently moved from Word to FrameMaker and delivering our manuals in PDF
format. Our new merged training/documentation deliverable will be
developed in Frame as well.

Our concern is how we are going to continue delivering source files to the
field training staff. We're convinced that they will still want to
customise the documents. Short of buying a ton of copies of FrameMaker and
sending everyone through Frame training is there a work around?

It is doubtful that the trainers will want to learn Frame. Their changes
consist mainly of adding notes, deleting sections, and other "minor"
editing changes. If we give them Frame source files with multiple
conditional text settings, book files and the like, I'm sure they would be
overwhelmed. These are people who spend most of their time on the road
giving trainings. We've gotten the indication that FrameMaker might not be
welcomed with open arms.

There is a side issue of possibly providing source files to customers who
wish to customize the manuals to suit their own needs.

So, has anyone out there been in a similar situation?

David Skoglund
email: david -dot- g -dot- skoglund-2 -at- tc -dot- umn -dot- edu

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