Re: Online documentation

Subject: Re: Online documentation
From: Rose Wilcox <RWILC -at- FAST -dot- DOT -dot- STATE -dot- AZ -dot- US>
Date: Wed, 17 May 1995 17:40:00 PDT

Lisa Hodge wrote:
>We are currently in the early stages of planning our online doc
>project. We're looking for some feedback from those of you who have
>already been through the process.

>1. Did you replace your paper doc or continue to provide paper doc
>as a supplement to the online system? If you still provide paper doc
>to your users, is it a full-blown set or a condensed version?

We started off with a new product, so our situation was different. We
designed a documentation set that included a full help system with
procedural and reference doc, along with "Getting Started" tutorial manuals.

>2. Were your users receptive to the change to online doc?

We initially demo'd the online help to our users and they loved it. We are
still in User Acceptance testing though, so I'm sure we'll learn more....
Maybe more than we want to know... :-/

>3. Did you provide the online information as part of the help system,
>or did you convert the documentation so that it could be viewed online
>(e.g., Adobe Acrobat)? What tool did you use?

We used RoboHelp, specifically to take advantage of the full-set of Windows
Help tools. Our system is a true help system, not an on-line doc. Portions
of our system are tied into the application as context-sensitive help.

>4. Did you hire a consultant, or were you brave enough to tackle the
>project on your own? If you did the work yourself, how much of a
>learning curve did you encounter? Any recommendations on training?

Why I *am* a bold consultant, myself! :-) I was hired for this job with
but a little on-line help training and quickly picked it up. But I've
noticed the amount of time a writer needs to pick up the concepts and
techniques involved in on-line help varies greatly. I'd hesitate to make a
generalization. I learned from the manual, playing around, and the book
"Developing Online Help for Windows" by Boggan, Farkas, and Welinske, as
well as the WINHLP-L.

Rosie Wilcox
rwilc -at- fast -dot- dot -dot- state -dot- az -dot- us
ncrowe -at- primenet -dot- com

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