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Sageline Interview with Joe Welinske (WinWriters)

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More great Help memorabilia. Bill Meisheid (Sageline Publishing) interviews with Joe Welinske (WinWriters now WritersUA).

Thanks Bill for allowing us to republish this material on www.helpmvp.com



An Interview with Joe Welinske

Joe Welinski, the president of Winwriters, who started the industry leading WinHelp conference series six years ago, talked to Sageline's William Meisheid about a few reflections on the past, present, and future of the conference and of Help authoring in general.

Bill

What kind of person comes to a Winwriter's conference?

Joe

This type of conference appeals to the person who wants to go beyond the basic authoring tool and has an interest in the more advanced topics. I am continually surprised by how many people want to come to this conference.

Bill

I remember you started out with about 35 people at your first event. Now, six conferences later, you have 900 people. I remember you telling me at several points along the way that you thought the conference may have maxed out. Yet each year it is larger. Why?

Joe

Well, I have a core group of continuing supporters who come back year after year. But, also, the constant change over the last few years to 32-bit Help and then HTML-based Help has given us new and interesting things to explore.

Bill

Do you see the base of Help authors exploding? With the universal adoption of Windows and many companies using the Y2000 situation as a motive to switch from mainframe and terminal-based apps to client server and Windows-based apps, do you expect to see continuing growth?

Joe

While the industry as a whole is growing, the number of managers and people who need the kind of information a conference like this offers is a smaller part of the industry as a whole. There is a limit to the growth, but fortunately each year we seem to have exceeded our expectations.

Bill

It appears that new technology or directions add life and interest to a conference. What new thing do you see happening this year to give new energy to the conference next year?

Joe

Due to the emergence of HTML as a broad solution, I think the Unix market and cross platform Help will be a whole new area that opens up and expands the current areas of interest.

Bill

What kind of crossroads do you see on the horizon?

Joe

As the web has become a place where applications will live, suddenly we have thousands of "Help" developers trying to do Help. Laura LeMay [a bestselling author of HTML and web-related books] said early on in this conference that she finds people at web conferences having frantic discussion about how they are going to learn to navigate and come to terms with structure and links and color and all that. And she tells them that the online Help people have dealing with these issues for the last 10 years. They are not new issues. For me, it will become very interesting when these two areas begin to merge. Will the web people push into the Help area, and will we get more and more poorly done Help? Or are the Help people going to push into the web and bring all the knowledge of the Help community to bear on the web? If that happens, then you are talking about a hugely expanding scope of demand for Help.

Bill

What has been the biggest surprise for you over the past six years?

Joe

The growth of the interest in Help and the desire to come to conferences like this. It always amazes me.


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