Earlier this year, Michelle, my colleague on the Microsoft Dynamics NAV documentation team, wrote a blog post about improvements that we have made to the content for Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009. In addition to improving the product documentation, we are also working to improve how partners can customize and extend the Help.
In April, we published all of the Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0 platform documentation to the Microsoft.com Download Center. And now, we are releasing all of the source files for Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0 application Help on PartnerSource (log-in required). When Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 is released, we’ll also provide the new application Help source files on the same schedule as the localized releases.
Providing our partners with the documentation source files is only a first step toward improving Help customization. Feedback that we have heard is that the Online Help Guide (available on PartnerSource) is daunting. For Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009, we will be replacing this guide with a streamlined version focused on what you need to do to customize and build documentation for your Microsoft Dynamics NAV solution or add-on.
We are also updating GATE for Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009. While the functionality will be very similar to what you are using today, we’ll be making GATE more robust and easier to use by rewriting it as a .NET application.
Given the amount of time that we have left in this product cycle, these tactical changes are what we can provide in the Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 timeframe. You can continue to use RoboHelp (or your favorite HTML or Help authoring tool) to create Help. Over the coming months we will be developing our post-Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 strategy for improving Help customization. Based on what we heard at Convergence in March and in one-on-one discussions with several partners, we will be focusing on the following themes:
- Developing an easy mechanism to create and edit documentation, for example, Microsoft Word.
- Providing more procedural content which you can customize for your solution or add-on.
- Enabling you to create Help for objects.
We’d like to continue to hear what your needs are, so we can ensure that we are improving the process for customizing and extending Help. You can add your comments below or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here are some questions to get you started:
- How do you use the content that we provide?
- What types of Help do you provide to your customers to assist them in using your solution?
- If you don’t provide your customers with customized Help, what are the main reasons for not doing this? How does this impact your support costs?
- How will you use the source files for all of our Help, in all available languages? Will you customize these CHMs? Repackage Help into another format? Or do something else?
- Do you extend Help with information about the changes that you have made to Microsoft Dynamics NAV, such as new tables, forms, pages, etc.? How important is it to be able to extend Help? What would make this scenario more efficient for you?
- Have you used the Online Help Guide toolkit? How well did it help you accomplish Help customization?
- Do you know that we removed Company Notes in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0 and why? Were you using Company Notes? What worked for you about this solution? What didn’t work?
- If you customize the content that we provide, how do you determine what has changed from version to version?
It’s important for us to ensure that we are providing an efficient way for you to customize the documentation. We’re looking for volunteers to test our new Help processes, and provide us with feedback on how well these solutions meet your needs. In return, we’ll offer extra assistance in using these processes. If you would like to participate, please e-mail email@example.com.