I have the rare opportunity of building a new Technical Publications team in an environment that's pretty wide open to the tools. This company has recently acquired another company, and the acquisition has no doc team whatsoever. Pubs that exist were created by the respective products' managers, using whatever tool the PM was comfy using — ranging from LaTeX to Google Docs/Slides to wikis. The acquiring/parent company's docs are sourced in Adobe TCS with heavy use of single sourcing concepts — style-disciplined but unstructured, leveraging variables, conditional text, text insets, and shared chapter-level or topic-level files — or in RoboHTML or in Word, depending on the preferences of the writer on staff at the time.
Main offices are in Atlanta metro and NYC metro, but SMEs reside elsewhere around the US and also in Europe and Asia. About 1/3 of the company is exclusively Mac users, most of the rest being Windows users. It's an Agile development environment, and tools in play that are here to stay are JIRA, SalesForce, ZenDesk, and GitHub. It's primarily a SaaS company, with a few hardware products manufactured. Deliverables would primarily be online, web-based, searchable, indexed, and cross-platform (browser-independent and OS-agnostic). There is a strong push toward collaborative content here.
I understand the benefits, costs, limitations, and idiosyncrasies of Adobe TCS and ePublisher solutions as alternatives; I'm aware of MadCap Flare, Author-IT, and XML/DITA but have worked in neither of the three. I'd really like to avoid having
to deal with Microsoft Word as an intermediary for any of the print/PDF
output we have to create, because I find Word extraordinarily
I have the following questions for this forum:
- If you were in this situation and had no budget constraints, what would solution would you choose?
- If you were in this situation with a tight-fisted CFO and a strong corporate culture toward open-source software, what solution would you choose?
- I've become aware of and am investigating MindTouch due to its promises as collaborative CMS with dynamic user experience and ability to integrate Google Analytics, as well as work with SalesForce and ZenDesk. (I read the 2011 TechWhirl article -- and Autodesk has abandoned MindTouch..hmmm..) Have you any experience using MindTouch? If so, what conversion process experience, lessons-learned, or cautions would you share?
I greatly appreciate your valuable experience and insight!!!!