Angela Akridge wrote: > I'm a contractor for a very small startup that has a limited budget. I've > been tasked to create their online help. They currently have manuals in MS > Word, though no styles/tags are being used yet. > > They have no permanent writer, and they can't afford one at this time. > There's a chance that I'll be supporting their major releases on an ongoing > basis, and they'll update the help for their maintenance releases. Let me > get to the point. > > I must choose between MS Word or Frame as the source. I don't know which to > choose, given the circumstances!
I have to go against my fellow list-members (and my own preferences) on this one. As John noted, they apparently don't _really_ know how to use Word -- and thus will likely mess things up when they do the "minor updates." OTOH, learning FM is non-trivial, and if they don't use styles in Word, they're likely to mess up FM docs, too, even after some training. At the least, you'd have to modify the interface to disable ad hoc formatting controls as much as possible. And with either FM or Word, you still have to pick a help tool. For FM, Mif2Go is inexpensive, and once you set it up, they can just "turn the crank" to regenerate their output. But things will break when they redefine formats, use overrides left and right, etc. For Word, Doc-To-Help would be a good choice. But it's been a few years since I've used it, and I can't say how well it would handle Word files maintained by the less-than-skilled. In any case, a small startup with not much money or time -- it's asking a lot to have them learn either FM or the _right_ way to use Word, plus the help conversion tool, and the disciplined approach needed to keep it all working properly update after update. If the primary deliverable is online help, you may want to consider a lighter-weight, easier-to-learn help authoring tool like Help & Manual. Check out www.hat-matrix.com for info on various help authoring tools. HTH! Richard Richard G. Combs Senior Technical Writer Polycom, Inc. richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom 303-223-5111 ------ rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom 303-777-0436 ------