Re: Help or User Manual First?

Subject: Re: Help or User Manual First?
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 10:56:15 -0500

At 09:13 AM 4/30/97 -0500, you wrote:
>Tim Altom [SMTP:taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET] wrote:
>Design your approach so that it works for
>both, meaning that you'll have to compromise pretty heavily. There won't
>many popups, for example, unless you want to do them separately and lose
>your time benefits of straddling.
>What about a page layout where the material that would appear as popups in
>the help appears in a margin column? A bit more conversion effort, and
>there isn't room for many popups per page, but it might work.
>Mike Huber, celebrating 2750 years of decline, and not speaking for anybody
>Mike -dot- huber -at- software -dot- rockwell -dot- com
>Grammar and spelling are tools to be used in moderation.

Yes, it could work, but with some caveats. First, you'd have to make sure
that the margin notes were suitable for popups. Popups, by nature, are
almost totally context-dependent. A margin note obviously associated with a
paragraph of text might not make sense as a standalone piece of information.
Second, various tools compel you to create margins differently. In
PageMaker, it would be in a totally different text flow/block, which makes
it harder to convert. In Word, you'd have to have columns or tables, again
making it harder to convert the text automatically. FrameMaker is the
easiest, since it can have anchored margin notes, but even in FM you'd have
to slavishly maintain your assignment of tags to make it work.

One thing I didn't mention in my previous reply was that styles are also
extremely valuable for combining both kinds of files in one "parent" file.
If you studiously maintain style connections, you have a good chance of
having a good conversion. Otherwise...

Tim Altom
Vice President, Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice) 317.899.5987 (fax)
FrameMaker support ForeHelp support
FrameMaker-to-HTML Conversions
HTML Help Consulting and Production

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