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For our department's next project (a pretty darn big one) the product
manager would like to adopt a single-source model, in particular, the one
used by the SQL Server folks: a single file that serves as a source for both
the User Guide and also on-line Help. From what I gather, the on-line Help
is merely a subset of the larger file. The source file retains all of the
context-sensitivity features of Help as well as the comprehensiveness and
printability of a user guide.
We have already developed a good (well, at least we think so) format for our
on-line Help and User Guide. Is it possible to implement the single-souring
model without having to radically alter the current formatting of the
on-line Help and user guide? Is it possible that the current format of
either our on-line Help or User Guide will have to be, well, "compromised"
to fit into the single-source model? Are we looking at a fairly involved
planning and implementation process?
The deadline for the project is April 1st (yes, I know), so we're not
talking about a whole lot of time to work with. The product is a complex
database program, and is being completely re-worked for this release--none
of our existing documentation would be able to be used for this project. Our
department is small (two full-timers) and current doc tools include RoboHelp
2000 and FrameMaker. Note that it took approximately two months for us to
create on-line Help and a User Guide for one module of the program; the next
release will contain three major modules and six sub-modules.
NOTE: I am *not* trying to resurrect the single-source debate that has been
raging for the past year or so. I apologize in advance if this turns out to
be the case. If possible, please respond off-list.