RE: online tutorial

Subject: RE: online tutorial
From: "Lisa Hickling" <Lisa -dot- Hickling -at- realsuitesoftware -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 2005 11:09:40 -0400

-----Original Message-----
Kate Stout said

I need to create a web based tutorial for a client ... The first
tutorial will have about 100 pages for the first version, with the
possibility of doubling or tripling ... I'd like simple navigation :
TOC, then navigation of (back|next) through the sections at the same
... I need to design something that could be picked up and modified by a

There are a number of tools that could be used...
I could use your thoughts on tools you've used and like, and any pros or

cons to them. Keep in mind that I'm trying to balance good tutorial
functionality with ease of maintenance.

I'd adopt a barebones DIY approach, given your constraints. I had a
similar assignment for which I created

* Individual topic pages using DHTML + frames (you could use a tool to
create the pages if you like)
* A page sequence mapping in JavaScript
* JavaScript to dynamically /manage
- first|prev|next|last controls,
- page orientation ("you are at parent > child > grandchild") and
- a sitemap which served as TOC

Scaling was a breeze since additional topics pages only require changes
to the sequencing map.

This approach results in a site that is super-easily maintained by
developers. Tutorial authoring tools usually generate mystery files that
are *A PAIN* to edit manually, or might not be editable at all without
the tool itself. However, using your own DHTML + JavaScript combo, you
provide a nifty tutorial that does not create maintenance headaches. As
a bonus, you could probably enlist the help of the developers in
creating the navigation script, if scripting is not your forte!

Of course, things could get hairy if you want your tutorial to validate
and maintain session and user information. In that case you would
require a more robust solution and your project just escalated to a web

Lisa H.

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