With music blaring on your iPod? In a quiet corner? Actually, that's not where I'm going with this (although I admit I don't write and listen to music at the same time). I'm talking about something a little more fundamental. Do you like to write in a traditional narrative format?


If so, Doc-To-Help makes it simple for you to write a book, chapter by chapter  — and still output high-quality, feature-rich, *logical* Help and web output, as well as attractive manual output.


And if you'd prefer to write discrete content chunks, you can do that in Doc-To-Help also using the built in XHTML Editor or an HTML editor (such as Adobe® Dreamweaver® or Microsoft® FrontPage®). You can even combine different types of documents in the same project. More on this in a future blog post.


But back to writing preferences … With Doc-To-Help, you can work in Microsoft® Word, writing in an organic way, and Doc-To-Help takes care of the rest. You can write a book that flows, but transforms into logical Help topics. And you don't need to create separate topics – because Doc-To-Help creates them for you.

Writing in Word, Creating Help and Manuals Automatically

How does this happen? First of all, Doc-To-Help automatically breaks your Microsoft Word documents into individual topics based on Heading styles. It then uses the order of those topics to automatically structure the navigation of online outputs. If your documents have logical structure, so will your Help and web output, right out of the box.


Here's an example:


You write a chapter and apply the Heading 1 style to the chapter name. To the name of each section under that chapter, you apply the Heading 2 style.  Each chapter can be a single Word document, or you can keep multiple chapters in the same Word document. Just use the Heading 1 style to designate the start of a new chapter.


By design, Doc-To-Help does the following when you build your output (manual, Help, or web output): Heading 1’s in your Word Documents automatically become parent topics, and all of the Heading 2’s under them become subtopics. This can be illustrated by looking at the automatic Table of Contents generated by Doc-To-Help. The automatic Table of Contents for both online Help and manuals is generated based on the structure of your documents, and their order in the Doc-To-Help Documents Pane.



Note that Heading 1's with no Heading 2's under them become "standalone" topics in the TOC. (You can customize the automatically generated TOC if you would like.)


Your online Help and Manual TOCs will be appropriate for each format.



Parent topics (Heading 1's) automatically include “See Also” links to their subtopics (Heading 2's) in online outputs. You can add additional "See Also" links manually, and the introductory text (More:) can be changed and its style customized.




There are a few other ways Doc-To-Help automates a "book" workflow:


·      Links to other topics (created in Word using the Link button on the Doc-To-Help toolbar or ribbon) will automatically become cross-references (with page numbers) in your printed manual, while they will become hyperlinks in online outputs. You don't need to use Word's cross-reference feature to get both.

·      Margin notes in your Word Documents automatically become pop-ups in online Help or web output.


And …  Doc-To-Help automatically generates the Title Page, Table of Contents, and Index for printed manuals, so you don’t have to. It also adds footers. You don't need to use Word's features to create them. Just write and then build your Manual Target.



Next posts: Tips for Logical Help and the Doc-To-Help Toolbar

Until next time ...