Creating Online Help

Subject: Creating Online Help
From: Jennifer Zilliac <jennifer -at- SMARTDB -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 15 Dec 1997 17:11:07 -0800


I think my last question to this group may have been too general --
I didn't get any responses. I've been gathering information and
questions, and now I can formulate more specific questions.

Here's my situation: I'm the sole technical writer for a small
software company. I've just been here for a month or so. I'm
completely reworking the documentation set for our main
product, which currently has four books. There are another fifteen
very small books that I have to do some minor work on.

Our main product has no online help and no online documentation.
I have never put together an online help system, yet I need to
start guiding the ship into that port. I need to suggest when
and how we should implement online documentation and/or help.

I'm considering suggesting the following timeline:

1. Ship online documentation with GA, end-of-January 1998.

2. Create an online help system using RoboHELP for beta shipments
end-of-April 1998.

Here are my questions:

1. Has anyone used FrameReader to provide online books? What effort
was involved in providing them this way, as opposed to hardcopy.

2. What's your favorite way to provide online books? How much effort?

3. How long does it take to put together an online help system for
a fairly large software program. Do you think it's too ambitious
to try to ramp up on help authoring tools, put the system
together, and put out a major revision of a doc set in three

I will greatfully receive any other thoughts/suggestions you have
about putting out online documentation and help.


Jennifer Zilliac
jennifer -at- smartdb -dot- com, or

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