Re: writing help files

Subject: Re: writing help files
From: Scottie Lover <iluvscotties -at- mindspring -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 02 Dec 1999 16:51:38 -0500

At 04:05 PM 12/2/99 , Paul Hanson wrote:
>In the future, when development and documentation are joined at the hip,
>instead of being cousins that only see each other at funerals or yearly
>reunions, then I'll push to have screen prints in the online help. Until
>then, though, they will be used sparingly.

I once worked in an office in which the training department wrote the help
files and did the training, while the developers designed the system. We
were all part of MIS, and got along beautifully until some mastermind moved
training to another division -- and the head of MIS immediately announced
that developers were forbidden to provide any form of help or discussion to
the trainers or technical writers.

I'm sure that you can imagine the ensuing chaos. Whereas we had hitherto
been able to highlight the systems best features (and work-arounds for
those that were less than perfect), trainers and technical writers couldn't
pick them out in a vacuum -- and a tired, overworked, unhappy trainer or
tech writer isn't going to be highly motivated to make the person
responsible for all their problems look good.

IMHO, the key to any great help system is good teamwork between the tech
writer and the developer. Personally, I much prefer writing my own help
modules and guides. Unfortunately, however, I'm usually moved onto another
system and told to leave that for the tech writers -- which is fine
PROVIDED that I can work closely with them.

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