Within Newtec, my team and I are responsible for creating and maintaining product manuals. This was mainly done using Microsoft Word. However, recently Newtec applied a new product strategy, adding modularity into our products allowing customers to combine multiple features into their purchased equipment or making it possible to transform their equipment into another type of device (e.g. transforming a modulator into a modem).
Consequently many combinations are possible and describing these in a generic manual was no longer an option. We needed an authoring tool allowing us to apply flexibility. This tool must be able to:
Publish content online or towards a PDF file, using the Newtec look & feel
Make variants of manuals based upon the assembled features and hardware
Create tailor-made documentation
Import reusable content from our legacy documentation set (which were written in Word)
We first started with an authoring tool answering all of the above conditions, but it was an expensive tool and the level of support wasn’t as expected. Feeling a bit left in the cold, we decided to attend the ‘tcworld fair’ in Wiesbaden, Germany where we met up with 4.ST who presented their HelpServer tool to us.
4.ST was willing to come over to our offices and give a demo about the HelpServer possibilities. Based upon this demo we decided to give HelpServer a go. During this trial period we received very good assistance and follow-up from 4.ST.
The trial was a success and HelpServer answered our needs. Hence we installed HelpServer at our premises.
Newtec's experience with HelpServer so far
There is a learning curve to take into account, but thanks to the good support from 4.ST the on-site installation went smooth and we managed to create our first manuals using HelpServer. The HelpServer support site offers good documentation and learning resources.
Some of the optional features we use are:
Smartcontent: through the use of variables, smartsets and smartrules, we can easily create multiple variants of our manuals. Perhaps this is a feature that requires some time to get acquainted with, but it is a very powerful feature once you get the hang of it.
Feedback: giving our customers the possibility to easily share feedback or comments on the manuals.
Notification: makes it easier for our internal reviewers to share their comments.
Newtec's future Plans with HelpServer
Manage the translations of our manuals using HelpServer’s XML based translation support.
Import / Convert documents from other Newtec departments, so they can benefit from re-useable content as well.
Give our customers online access to the content through a centralized web portal (using the HelpServer logon exit feature).
"HelpServer is a tool that has a very good price/quality ratio, a very good level of support allowing us to produce tailor-made product documentation."
Information provided by Newtec, Mr. Marc De Baerdemaeker, Documentation Team Manager - September 2013