Help Authoring tools

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  • Help Authoring tools
  • carriegold

    My boss has come up with a fantastic idea to have all the lessons we have learned/t from various projects stored in one searchable repository. The idea is that if you search on “risk” you’ll find definitions, categories associations, things that have been done to mitigate certain risks etc.

    Muggins ‘ere has the task of researching various authoring tools and I wondered, oh powerful and knowledgeable massiff, if anyone had used this sort of thing? Could make any recommendations etc

    Cheers chaps


    Premier Icon cp

    blimey, that’s one hell of a project!! if you pull that off then i think you could make rather a lot of money!



    What is the budget?

    I was part of a team that developed such a tool. We used Lotus Notes.
    It was web based. It was a ‘Risk Profiling’ tool for financial auditors.

    Also useful – who were the last people to read ‘xyz’ document. So it’s fresh in their mind in case you want to discuss it with them.


    Premier Icon geoffj

    If your docs are authored in Word or similar then the 1st option to consider would be an Electronic Records & Documents Management System. That will hold the documents and allow you to add metadata so that they become searchable and cross-referenced.

    Have a look here:


    Mediawiki – good enough for wikipedia, good enough for you. Free, easily run, simple to use. Though you cant search the contents of the documents you can write about them and link to them.


    designing this sort of thing is what I do for a living & the short answer is that the technology is a only a small part of the equation. The key to adding real value to a repository of content is to tag the content in some way (as Geoffj mentions above). Problem is that getting content authors to do this in a way that is useful, coherent and consistent is tricky.

    Feel free to email me if you want to discuss in more detail.


    I’ve got MadCap Flare here, I think it could give you something your boss might be after.


    …and in my experience, any system of written information that relies on ‘content authors’, rather than actual writers, is doomed.

    Your experience is at odds with what happens in almost any large-scale Intranet or similar system then Dorset_Knob.



    Not trying to say it doesn’t happen. I know what happens, and I stand by my comment. Mostly, the quality of ‘content’ produced by ‘content authors’ in such systems stinks.

    That’s why companies hire agencies and copywriters to produce their external sites and customer-facing information, I suppose. 🙂


    Actually, you seem to agree:

    Problem is that getting content authors to do this in a way that is useful, coherent and consistent is tricky.

    I’d say those problems apply equally to the content as to the tagging. Unless you’re saying the tags are more important than the information they describe?


    Look at a Content Management System (CMS)
    Freeware ones
    – Drupal
    – Joomla
    – ocPortal

    We use Oracle CMS (Stellent).
    Tagging or Meta-data tagging is only one aspect of the CMS.
    You also need a workable meta data design, an authoring and a release process that everybody agrees upon. We also use a verity search engine that searches into the document with the search tuned and “weighted”.

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