H&M for Equipment Manuals?

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H&M for Equipment Manuals?

Unread postby Lamda Wade » Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:46 pm

H&M users:

I am new to H&M and to single source development. Previously I have worked in a universe of MS Word/print ready deliverables, driven by standard industry project specifications. Most of my projects are operations and maintenance manuals for equipment (think maintenance of a conveyor system, for example). These manuals are often 200 pages + in print, and are image intensive (for example a procedure to remove a conveyor motor may have multiple drawings).

I recently completed my first H&M projects for two software manuals. Now I am wondering if I can make H&M work for my equipment manuals as well. I'd love to push my industry in the direction of online manuals. In this vision, manuals can be accessed by maintenance techs from equipment terminals on the system floor.

I searched the user forum and from what I can see there are a lot of conversations about using H&M for software manuals. Is anyone developing equipment/hardware manuals using H&M? To this end I have several questions:

- Scope of content: given the scale of the content in print manuals (200+ pages, including written procedures and graphic images), and presumably relatively large file sizes (considering images), is H&M a suitable tool for stable and easily deployed online equipment manuals? Are there ways to organize WebHelp files to make deployment easier/more stable (for example, create content in individual modules that can be linked together?)

- Output format. I'm reading several threads (which seem to be older) that indicate .chm cannot be deployed other than locally. I will need to deploy across a network or online. I think WebHelp is the best output format in this case.

- integration of video or animation: I think that planting video in WebHelp is pretty easy and troublefree? I have not tried this yet, so not sure if I can pitch this as a benefit.

- Any other thoughts, feedback, considerations I may have missed? Has anyone done this successfully? Care to share examples?

Thanks so much for the opportunity to get your feedback!
Lamda Wade
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2017 3:00 pm

Re: H&M for Equipment Manuals?

Unread postby Tim Green » Fri Mar 02, 2018 8:27 am

Hi Lamda,

The most important thing we need to know is what is the system that the manuals are going to be viewed on? In industrial environments you often have *nix (Linux/Unix) based systems or a derivative, or even something more arcane in browser terms, like QNX real-time systems. If the viewing system is Windows you have more options -- for example you could use the EWriter format, which needs its own viewer EXE. If you can use that, you combine the benefits of WebHelp and CHM and eliminate the disadvantages of both, but you do need relatively recent Windows clients for display.

Similarly, if you have restricted web browsing capabilities in an industrial environment, particularly as regards scripting, CSS3 and things like that, that can restrict what you can do in WebHelp and the kind of skins you can use.

Another key question is how the manuals are going to be used. If the users are going to study them systematically from start to finish you can get by with PDF, which is essentially an electronic copy of a printout. PDFs are not so good for interactive output, but they give you outstanding printing quality if that is needed. For quick reference, searching and interactive access you need to use something like WebHelp or EWriter.
Tim (EC Software Documentation & User Support)

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