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Re: Experience of document/'knowledge' management systems


If design documents are not in Word, why not export your FrameMaker
template in RTF, open it in Word, clean out Heading 1, Heading 2, etc. and
any other or the trillion Word default formats you don't want, and then
save it as Normal.dot.  Have all the engineers replace their existing
Normal.dot and you are halfway home.  We have done this very successfully.
And, just to get them on side, supply some templates for the different
design and specification documents with placeholders for such things as the
change table, references sections, etc. already filled in.

Then, importing copy from specification documents is a breeze and all you
have to do is import formats from current.

As for SourceSafe, we have been using it for about a year to control
versions of documentation.  It is very user friendly and its drag-and-drop
integration with Windows Explorer ensures that non-hackers can quickly set
up projects and subprojects from their documentation file tree on their
local computers.  We use sharing for files that are common to several
projects.  You can get a third-party application, Visual SourceOffsite,
which works in a similar fashion across the Internet and implements a true
client-server relationship.

I have also used ClearCase with its ghastly Attache client app and endured
the frustration of client and server getting out of synch, for example,
ClearCase says a file is checked out but Attache says it ain't.  Any
version manager that has a user guide literally 5 in. thick is
overengineered for documentation version control IMHO.

We looked at CVS but it was too hacker oriented and could not share files
across projects as neatly as SourceSafe.

If you want the ultimate version manager, SourceSafe may not be to your
taste.  But we find it more than adequate and have yet to find it lacking
in any functionality required in this department.

[Windows 2000, FrameMaker 6.0p405, FrameScript 1.27C01, Enhance 2.03,
Acrobat 4.05.2, mif2go 31r25, IXgen 5.5.h]


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Hedley Finger
Technical Communications/Technical communicator and FrameMaker mentor
MYOB Australia <http://www.myob.com.au/>
P.O. box 371   Blackburn VIC 3130   Australia
Tel. +61 3 9894 0945
Mob. +61 412 461 558

                    David Neeley                                                                                                   
                    <dbneeley@earthlink.net>            To:     framers@FrameUsers.com (Framers List)                              
                    Sent by:                            cc:     framers@FrameUsers.com (Framers List)                              
                    bounce-framers-79823@lists.r        Subject:     Re: Experience of document/'knowledge' management systems     
                    20/11/2001 04:47                                                                                               
                    Please respond to David                                                                                        

Design documents are often quite different from the product documentation
designed to go into the field with the product.

Unless you are willing and ready to buy Frame for your engineering and
development staff (and quality assurance people), a Frame/Acrobat
"solution" may be unworkable...for the design stage.

Since Adobe has not seen fit to release a "Frame lite" version suitable for

basic word processing (a huge mistake, IMHO), you will often be relegated
to having the design stuff in the corporate word processor, generally Word.

On the other hand, when engineers are given Frame they often seem compelled

to do extensive and unnecessary formatting rather than using a template and

avoiding overrides. This is obviously a waste of their time--and a huge
waste of yours when you seek to use any of the material in the design docs.

Because of the frequent changes in the design stage, companies are often
using version control programs to be sure that everyone is on the same page

with the latest versions of the design docs. Often, this is Microsoft's
Source Safe...although others are better, Microsoft is often the "default
choice" in many shops. This is used particularly in companies that use
Microsoft language products for code development.

I have run into companies (worked with a few, even) that have decided that
all the documentation must be version-controlled, too--and they have
usually specified that the same repository used for code be used for
documentation. Thus, you may get an unfortunate introduction to SourceSafe.

If your engineers are doing their design docs in Word, I suggest you be
sure to get Mif2Go for its superior ability to deal with .RTF formatted
documents. This can simplify your life when it comes time to create Frame
documentation using Word source documents.

I hope this is helpful in at least introducing some of the issues you may
well face.



At 08:43 AM 11/19/01 -0600, you wrote:
>>Dear Framers
>>We have been retained by a client who is seeking an improved method of
>>handling internal software design documents and possibly more general

>It is pretty much an open question. If you are looking at how to
>catalog,display, and retrieve documents, then you should look into how
>they are currently operating and then look at the myriad offerings of
>The real question is, what is their methodology. If they don't already
>have a solid and functioning protocol, software will not really help them.

>Whatever you can do in software, you can do manually, for less cost, and
>without a lot of extra problems. The key is to keep it simple.

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