eDialog - Barry Rogoff

Barry Rogoff
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Technical Writing
e-Dialog was an e-mail marketing company that used an extensive suite of proprietary and highly complex, Web-based application programs called Precision Central. The programs provided the means to create and execute large-scale, automated e-mail marketing campaigns tailored to specific audiences, and to capture and scientifically analyze the data produced by the campaigns. The programs were used internally except for a few "self-service" clients that depended on technical support. e-Dialog was absorbed by another division of the parent company many years ago.

I designed the first complete, current, and professional-quality documentation set for the Precision Central suite of applications and wrote most of it. This required learning the entire email marketing business from end-to-end because each part of Precision Central was used by different groups.

The Precision Central documentation was published in HTML and PDF. The HTML files included a master table of contents, a master index, full-text search across the entire documentation set, and cross-reference links between all manuals. The PDF files had complete table of contents in the form of bookmarks, which are not displayed by the PDF rendering mechanisms in some current browsers.

I designed and implemented an automated documentation library build system that allowed all company employees to review the work in progress every 24 hours in order to provide immediate feedback. The documentation library included all previous, current, and in-progress documentation sets.

I was required to include examples in these manuals from NEWCO, a demonstration email campaign used by the eDialog sales and marketing groups. There are many glaring errors in the NEWCO examples that I would have corrected had I been allowed to modify the source files. I was denied access to the sources because the sales and marketing managers wanted NEWCO to be full of mistakes. They believed that the erros made it seem more real and provided an opportunity to demonstrate how easy it was to correct them.

Also note that the word "template" in the title of a manual was due to a bug in the software. I was unable to use the Author-it Web Help template, which was considerably more elegant and professional-looking than the HTML templates used to produce the samples shown here. All components of Precision Central, without exception, were required to work within the Cold Fusion application server run-time environment, which did not support the advanced Java technology used by the Web Help template. This was the decision of a remote software manager who insisted that the Cold Fusion environment was necessary for "security" reasons and would not even listen to reasons that proved why this belief was specious.
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