Re: Help or User Manual First?

Subject: Re: Help or User Manual First?
From: Sue Heim <sue -at- RIS -dot- RISINC -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 11:20:24 -0700

To David's reply regarding WexTech's white paper, Tom Altom wrote:
> Again without having taken the time to read the white paper, I'd have to
> stand for the moment with those who'd advocate doing the two files
> separately, and in two different tools. That is, if you have the time and
> the money. Given the increasing costs of development time and the inevitable
> shortening of time-to-market, I'd say that the trend is toward
> single-source, not away.

Of all the people I know who single-source online and written docs,
NOBODY just takes the one and pours it into the other. For obvious

If you are the only writer in a company, and need to provide both
forms of documentation at the same time, single-sourcing is the only
option. We've had these discussions millions of times before
(doesn't this pop up, oh, about twice a year? <grin>). I am a very
firm advocate of single-sourcing *because* I am the only writer here.
I do, however, realize that the two forms of media are very
different, and they are handled differently. I have to make changes
to allow for context, the "flippability" of pages, popups (versus
margin callouts), "see also's" and the like. But, if I didn't use the
bulk of what's written for one in the other, there's no way on earth
that I would meet deadlines.

And you know what? None of our users think either our written docs or
online help is awful, so I must be doing something right. (Either
that, or nobody reads the docs -- dreadful thought, no? <grin>)

Sue Heim
Research Information Systems
Carlsbad, California USA
Email: Sue -at- ris -dot- risinc -dot- com

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