Exploring Open Source Tools for User Assistance Mike McCallister (ProTek Writing Services) [email_address]
Tool Demonstrations & Reviews <ul><li>What is open source software? </li></ul>
Definitions <ul><li>Open Source: http://opensource.org/docs/osd </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focused on what developers offer.
Allow derivatives, free redistribution. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Free Software: http://www.fsf.org/licensing/essays/free-sw....
Focused on what user can do. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Freeware/Shareware </li></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;Free beer&quot;: Any so...
Beware of potential malware! </li></ul></ul>
So What Are We Talking About? <ul><li>Content development tools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>OpenOffice.org: Words, presentations...
Scribus: Desktop publishing, page layouts
TeX: Document processor, semi-structured text </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Graphics tools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The GIMP: Raster...
Inkscape: Vector graphics </li></ul></ul>
OpenOffice.org <ul><li>5 applications </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Writer word processor – similar to Word, WordPerfect
Draw vector graphics tool – similar to Illustrator, CorelDRAW
Impress presentation – similar to PowerPoint
Calc spreadsheet – similar to Excel
Base database – similar to Access </li></ul></ul><ul><li>ODF OASIS standard
AutoExport to PDF </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some configuration possible </li></ul></ul>
OOo Writer vs. FrameMaker vs. Word Writer FrameMaker Word Master documents Book files Master documents Conditional text Co...
OOo Writer Navigator <ul><li>Outline tool </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Configurable headings
Drag-n-drop </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Quick go-to </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tables
Graphics
Hyperlinks </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Move it out of your way </li></ul>
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Open Source Tools for User Assistance

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You can produce quality user assistance and documentation without spending thousands of dollars on tools. A profile of five open source tools for user assistance.

This is a version of a talk given at the 2009 WritersUA conference, and at the March STC Wisconsin chapter meeting.

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Open Source Tools for User Assistance

  1. 1. Exploring Open Source Tools for User Assistance Mike McCallister (ProTek Writing Services) [email_address]
  2. 2. Tool Demonstrations & Reviews <ul><li>What is open source software? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Definitions <ul><li>Open Source: http://opensource.org/docs/osd </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focused on what developers offer.
  4. 4. Allow derivatives, free redistribution. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Free Software: http://www.fsf.org/licensing/essays/free-sw.html </li></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;Free software is a matter of the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software.&quot;
  5. 5. Focused on what user can do. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Freeware/Shareware </li></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;Free beer&quot;: Any software charging $0.
  6. 6. Beware of potential malware! </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. So What Are We Talking About? <ul><li>Content development tools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>OpenOffice.org: Words, presentations, etc.
  8. 8. Scribus: Desktop publishing, page layouts
  9. 9. TeX: Document processor, semi-structured text </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Graphics tools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The GIMP: Raster graphics
  10. 10. Inkscape: Vector graphics </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. OpenOffice.org <ul><li>5 applications </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Writer word processor – similar to Word, WordPerfect
  12. 12. Draw vector graphics tool – similar to Illustrator, CorelDRAW
  13. 13. Impress presentation – similar to PowerPoint
  14. 14. Calc spreadsheet – similar to Excel
  15. 15. Base database – similar to Access </li></ul></ul><ul><li>ODF OASIS standard
  16. 16. AutoExport to PDF </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some configuration possible </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. OOo Writer vs. FrameMaker vs. Word Writer FrameMaker Word Master documents Book files Master documents Conditional text Conditional text Limited conditional text support Direct PDF export Acrobat Distiller PDF plug-ins available. Cascading styles Structure available Cascading styles; Strong outline tool Simple list numbering Simple list numbering Field codes
  18. 18. OOo Writer Navigator <ul><li>Outline tool </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Configurable headings
  19. 19. Drag-n-drop </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Quick go-to </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tables
  20. 20. Graphics
  21. 21. Hyperlinks </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Move it out of your way </li></ul>
  22. 22. OOo Writer/Web <ul><li>For HTML-based support
  23. 23. Cleaner code than Word
  24. 24. XML Forms Wizard
  25. 25. Simple controls in toolbar
  26. 26. Gallery provides backgrounds, bullets, and sounds
  27. 27. Preview in (default) browser </li></ul>
  28. 28. Scribus <ul><li>Page layout / Desktop publisher
  29. 29. Create text and graphics elsewhere, then import
  30. 30. Good for (short) manuals, quick reference guides, dynamic PDF
  31. 31. Export to print, PDF
  32. 32. Careful: Default templates in A4 </li></ul>
  33. 33. Scribus
  34. 34. <ul><li>Created for UNIX CLI, LyX is the GUI
  35. 35. Fully separates presentation from text
  36. 36. WYSIWYM: What you see is what you mean
  37. 37. Exports to ODF, PDF, HTML
  38. 38. Terrific equation editor
  39. 39. Excellent documentation </li></ul>
  40. 40. LyX
  41. 41. LyX Terminology <ul><li>Document Classes: Templates </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Article (default)
  42. 42. Book: Article with Chapters
  43. 43. Letter
  44. 44. Report
  45. 45. Weakness: No &quot;user manual&quot; class. No DITA or DocBook XML support. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Environments: Styles </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strictly enforced by document class </li></ul></ul>
  46. 46. Open Source Graphics: The GIMP <ul><li>Open source Photoshop
  47. 47. Raster graphics (JPG, PNG)
  48. 48. Layers
  49. 49. Screenshots
  50. 50. Beginning to support CMYK color rendering through GEGL </li></ul>
  51. 51. GIMP vs. Photoshop GIMP Photoshop Layer styles Layers Scripts, not macros Macro recording tool Many useful plug-ins Massive developer community writing add-ons GimpShop available, but not current Uses different terminology GIMP is great if it’s your first editing tool, but Photoshop experts may not find their skills transferable
  52. 52. Open Source Graphics: Inkscape <ul><li>Open source Illustrator/CorelDRAW
  53. 53. Scalable Vector Graphics
  54. 54. Layers
  55. 55. Callouts & text boxes
  56. 56. Flowcharts
  57. 57. Built-in IM support client </li></ul>
  58. 58. What Are Scalable Vector Graphics? <ul><li>W3C Standard XML </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Attributes can be indexed and searched
  59. 59. Inkscape contains an XML editor </li></ul></ul><ul><li>No pixilation when you resize
  60. 60. Supports event handlers
  61. 61. Can animate with JavaScript </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not yet in Inkscape </li></ul></ul>
  62. 62. Text Boxes in Inkscape <ul><li>Create simple text box
  63. 63. Set font
  64. 64. Type
  65. 65. Add arrows as necessary </li></ul>
  66. 66. Why Use OSS for User Assistance? <ul><li>Accessible to everyone
  67. 67. Open standards
  68. 68. Price is right
  69. 69. Learning curve comparable from app to app
  70. 70. Portability </li></ul>
  71. 71. Resources <ul><li>OpenOffice.org: http://www.openoffice.org
  72. 72. OOo Doc Team: http://oooauthors.org
  73. 73. Scribus: http://www.scribus.net
  74. 74. Lyx: http://www.lyx.org
  75. 75. The GIMP: http://www.gimp.org
  76. 76. Inkscape: http://www.inkscape.org </li></ul>
  77. 77. Other Resources <ul><li>TheOpenDisc: http://www.theopendisc.com
  78. 78. Wikipedia list of OSS packages: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_open_source_ software_packages
  79. 79. PDF Creator: http://www-pdfcreator.com/
  80. 80. Dia flowchart tool: http://live.gnome.org/Dia/
  81. 81. Mike McCallister: http://www.michaelmccallister.com </li></ul>

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