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TechWR-L: A Tech Writer's Guide to the Open Source Movement (Part 2)

Jul 30, 2000, 13:24 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Bruce Byfield)

[ Thanks to Bruce Byfield for this link. ]

"Until recently, most Open Source projects were small. They focused on the needs of the developers who wrote them. Aside from the GIMP, a graphics program that rivals PhotoShop for complexity, productivity software was rare. Several Open Source office suites are being developed, but, for now, writers may have to choose between efficient tools and remaining true to the Open Source ethos."

"If you work on Linux, the largest center of Open Source projects, you can find several writing tools; however, balancing features and ideals is a constant challenge. For example, Applixware Office boasts a full set of features, but it is not available for download and is closed source. Corel Office, by contrast, is closed source but is available for free download. The Linux Framemaker beta is also free for the download; however, Adobe may never issue a finished product. On the other hand, LaTeX, a professional typesetting program, is free software, but, like QuarkExpress, is a poor choice for documents that will be frequently revised."

"Online help is even more difficult. No help authoring tools comparable to ForeHelp or RoboHelp exist, unless you are documenting Java applications, in which case you can use JavaHelp. Further, choices for help formats are limited. WinHelp doesn't exist on Linux or BSD (obviously), so the options are either plain text or HTML. If you choose HTML, editors like Bluefish are available. Just don't expect WYSIWYG--most of the free HTML editors display only the raw code."

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