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Interrobang's Journal: My Teeny Tiny Technical Writer-Dick 3

Journal by Interrobang
I admit it. Not only do I not have very many tools, most of the ones I do have aren't very big, and damn, I don't even know how to use the big ones very well.

(Get your minds out of the gutter. The big ones, in this case, would be MS Word and FrameMaker...)

I'm a Help&Manual kind of girl, generally, and when I'm just futzing around with text, I like, well, text, and anything word-processory I want to do strictly for my own use, I tend to do in OpenOffice. The first genuine word processor I ever used was WordPerfect, so even though I haven't used WordPerfect in five or six years, I still feel like using Word is the equivalent to beating one's head against the bus map taped to one's office wall. (It's convenient to my chair, for ease of exasperation.)

Right now, I'm trying to learn RoboHelp Word, because that's what I'm using for the new project. I did a tutorial on RoboHelp HTML, which looks pretty easy -- it looks basically the same as Help&Manual, only with some feeping creaturitis. Pobody's nerfect.

RoboHelp Word is giving me fits. It uses a lot of advanced Word functions, and that's fucking me up, too. Compared to the average-Word-user-on-the-street, I can make Word walk and talk, and sit up and beg. For a technical writer, my MS Word skills aren't very good -- I don't use styles all that much, I try not to use templates, I don't know how to generate a table of contents (though I can generate an index -- both of these things are much easier in FrameMaker!), I don't do macros, and I'm generally of the opinion that simply because a bell or whistle exists doesn't mean one needs to use it.

My document designs tend to be on the Spartan side. On the plus side, many, many people have complimented me on how simple and easy-to-read my documents are, so there is method to my madness.

The previous author on this document obviously did not share my "simple is good" philosophy. There are, for instance, over 140 styles in the master document I'm working on. (I think one hundred forty three, but I could have messed up my count by a couple.) *sigh*

They tell me that the next project I do for them (assuming I live that long), I'll be building the documentation from scratch. I hope they're not expecting something mind-bogglingly complex, because they're not bloody likely to get it.
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My Teeny Tiny Technical Writer-Dick

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  • Why not just convert it all to plain text files, then use a utility to generate the help files? Google txt2chm. Or make the files as html files, and convert? Google html2chm.

    Or, since Microsoft is dropping .chm help files, just do it as a bunch of html pages, and convert to pdf using OpenOffice?

    • I would love to do that, but I have to retain the look and feel of the original document, which is why I'm not doing it in RoboHelp HTML (which would make me a lot happier anyway, since it's a lot closer to Help&Manual). I'm not sure if they have the .doc file set up for print and help publication, or what.

      I'm a contractor and I just got the job a week ago, so I don't have a lot of latitude to bring in new tools and stuff.

      However, for my own use (and maybe to go on Teh Corprit Weebsite) I am making
      • by ab762 (138582)
        Help systems are some kind of worst case; AFAIK, each is worse than the last. And the documentation for the help tools always seems to have a bad case of shoemaker's child syndrome.

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