Yup, the new SolarWinds help system has finally been launched, thank God. You can check out SAM's new system here. So, what does this mean for you? Not much really, but there are a few things I'd like to bring to your attention.
Remember when Help had every product? (See below.) The tech writers here called that, MegaHelp, and with good reason. It took hours just to build that monster. (I think the marketing folks back then concluded that if a user saw every product, they may want to buy something else.) That's like me looking for motorcycle instructions and stumbling across the "How to land a 747" page. Not so good. Now each product has its own separate Help system. See?
Note the differences. A few books for each product rather than 50 books!
How did we make the transition?
The old fashioned way...we worked harder, and a li'l smarter. In addition to our regular workload, each tech writer was responsible for making sure every link in their product's UI was inserted into the new system, in addition to the cross-references within each document. Naturally, there's no tool for doing this and we were facing thousands of copy & paste operations, especially me! (SAM is rocking about 2,300 pages when all is said and done.)
Being a programmer, my first thought was to build a tool to automate this. The tool I built worked, for the most part. It extracted all the links and cross-references from our original documents and "pasted" them into the new ones. (When I say, "...for the most part," I mean there were some square peg/round hole moments that we all had to sort out.) The end result though was a much faster conversion with hands and fingers saved from not copying & pasting 20,000 times.
Is it perfect?
I think we did our best to make the transition as easy as possible for you, the user. That said, it is possible that there may be broken links and/or delays. If there are, I apologize in advance. It took several months to convert our entire help system to a new platform. Working the conversion while adding new content simultaneously pushed all of the tech writers to the edge. If you spot a problem, please post it here and we'll fix the issue as soon as possible. If you don't experience any problems, great! That's our goal. We are after all, Technical Writers - The Unsung Heroes.
What's in it for you?
First off, many fewer books to sift through. Excellent improvement IMHO. Next, we have a more robust search engine that will only search within your product's docs.
The New Books.
You would be surprised how much info is included just in SAM's AppInsight for Exchange section. Why not show you? Okay.
Another tip: Search our KB system. We have a great deal of articles already in place for AppInsight for Exchange. And look, I've already done the search for you!
As you can see, there's a ton of information on everything AppInsight for Exchange. Why? Well Kate from SAM Tech Support, um, well, er, uh, her kung fu is stronger than my kung fu. What Kate wants, Kate gets. (She quite literally is a black belt in kung fu and I have the picture of her black eye to prove it.) I do whatever I can to make her life easier, so before you go calling support, take a peek at the brandy new help files. (Plus the darned thing just looks cooler.)
In the End.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of the tech writers here at SolarWinds. We were under a great deal of stress creating new content while making this transition work. I know some even took it on the chin. Hope you thwackers take advantage of our hard work. My much needed vacation starts next week.
Goodnight Doc Torok, wherever you are!