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Open Source Tools for User Assistance
Open Source Tools for User Assistance
Open Source Tools for User Assistance
Open Source Tools for User Assistance
Open Source Tools for User Assistance
Open Source Tools for User Assistance
Open Source Tools for User Assistance
Open Source Tools for User Assistance
Open Source Tools for User Assistance
Open Source Tools for User Assistance
Open Source Tools for User Assistance
Open Source Tools for User Assistance
Open Source Tools for User Assistance
Open Source Tools for User Assistance
Open Source Tools for User Assistance
Open Source Tools for User Assistance
Open Source Tools for User Assistance
Open Source Tools for User Assistance
Open Source Tools for User Assistance
Open Source Tools for User Assistance
Open Source Tools for User Assistance
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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. …

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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Transcript

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

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