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Request for info

Joe has a situation that may call for WebWorks Publisher rather than
RoboHelp. He's not signed up for either Framers list. Anyone care to send
Joe your opinion?

Please send feedback to him directly - [mailto:JSpitzig@Buschmanco.com]


Having produced our manuals using FrameMaker for several years, we are at a
crossroads for deciding whether to use RoboHelp as the publishing platform
or to continue using FrameMaker.


Our subject matter is electromechanical products for an industrial market.
Our audiences fall into one of two major groups:

- Engineers who design systems configured from our various product lines,

- Technicians who install or maintain our products.

We have about two dozen product lines and maintain a separate manual for
each product line.  Each manual comprises about ten sections, with some
individual sections having as many as 100 pages.  The manual for the first
audience group includes all ten sections, and the manual for the second
audience group includes only three of the same ten sections.  The full and
partial versions of the manual currently each have a separate table of
contents and front matter.  Since a sister company also sells our product
line, we derive a second version of every manual under the auspices of the
other company.  We have been providing hard-copy manuals   of the full
manual for certain audience sets, and hard copies of the partial manual are
historically shipped with product.  We also generate PDF files of both full
and partial manuals and distribute the PDF files on CD and over our server.

Naturally, given the nature of our subject matter, our manuals contain a
multitude of technical illustrations, which are linked ("imported by
reference") to the document, and call-out text is added from within
FrameMaker.  In our spare-parts section, numeric callouts are
cross-referenced to entries in tables located in the main text flow.  The
entries in the table are numbered automatically by FrameMaker, and the
cross-reference in the callout reflects the automatically numbered value.
If a revision requires adding or deleting entries in the spare parts table,
then the item numbering in the table, and consequently the corresponding
numbers shown in the figure callouts, are updated automatically.  Also,
clicking on the callout in the PDF file jumps the reader to the
corresponding entry in the table.

Current Situation:

There is intense pressure from a certain quarter outside our department for
us to switch everything over to HTML as a native format, but seemingly no
concern for any ramifications such a change may have for us.  I don't have
enough hands-on experience with RoboHelp to evaluate the impact such a
radical change would have on our development and revision processes, or on
the documents we produce.

Can anybody offer any insight to help us decide which way to go?

Joe Spitzig


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