Re: Creating Online Help

Subject: Re: Creating Online Help
From: "Cramer, Kim" <kcramer -at- NCSLINK -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 06:45:00 -0700

Jennifer - Tim Alton's response was great and covered most of the points
going through my mind when I read your email. I also think you're being
a bit too ambitious with your delivery schedule! A few more things to
think about:

1. PDF is the way to go for online docs. However, the font you've
chosen for the print version of the docs may not be suitable for online
viewing. Prior to moving those docs to PDF, you may want to test some
different fonts on the systems your users are most likely to view them
on. Remember that you will need to ship Acrobat Reader or other viewer
(and installation instructions) to your users. (Our company has a
production person who handles preparing our PDF files, so unfortunately
I don't know much about the actual conversion process and can't provide
more help on this.)

2. Tim's advice on preparing your documents to be a source for your
online Help was excellent, and applicable even if your docs are in a
program other than Frame. I wanted to mention that I use RoboHelp and
have found it easy to learn and use. If you're planning to provide
context sensitive help, you'll need to discuss with your programmers how
they plan to implement the connection. The easiest for you is to let
RoboHelp automatically generate the context IDs, then you can provide
your programmers with that list. The alternative is to let them provide
a list of IDs; you can then edit the RoboHelp map files to match. These
numbers should be identified early in the development cycle so you can
test the links as you go. If you're not going to be using a parent
document, you may want to set up a complete skeleton of the Help system
that includes all the topic titles you've identified (as you create a
topic, RoboHelp assigns a context ID). You can then fill in the text of
the topics as you develop it.

3. You should allow time to completely test every link in your Help.
This includes internal jumps and popups as well as all context sensitive
links to your product. It's time consuming, but you don't want users to
see the "Help topic does not exist" error message. The bigger the
system, the longer this will take.

4. A tip: Create a list of keywords to use for searching at the
beginning of the development cycle. If your print docs have a good
index, it can be a starting point for your keywords list. Then use that
list to tag your topics.


Kim Cramer
mailto:kcramer -at- ncslink -dot- com
Sr. Information Developer
NCS Education, Mesa AZ
*************, or

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