re: .net and Help

Subject: re: .net and Help
From: "Zigo, Joy" <Joy -dot- Zigo -at- HARPERCOLLINS -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 5 Mar 2004 16:47:54 -0500

John and Mike, thank you both.
This information shines some light on the dark mysteries of help for

I do still have some questions about how this web forms and web services
map onto the latest versions of Robohelp.

A) If our developers are using .net to develop an application of the Web
Forms variety, it seems to me you are saying that we can use plain 5x
(or continue using DreamWeaver) to make the Help.

B) If developers are embedding web services, such as reports using SQL
Server Reporting Services, into a Web Forms type application, then what?

B.1) Mike, what do you mean by "traditional Web technologies sort of
hung on the side of your Web Service"? What would this look like in real
life? What does "hung on" mean in simpler language? Could there simply
be Help in a small window of its own, which is opened when user clicks a
Help link on the same screen where the reports are displayed? Or would
it be something else? If so, what? (If you "code your own" help for use
with .NET, presumably it also hangs on the side, whatever that means.)

B.2) If Help does "run as a .NET service" -- what does that help look
like in use? Is the process of developing the help any different in this
case than if the help were being developed for a cold fusion app?

Also, what are the advantages and disadvantages of B.1 vs B.2 from a
help developer's point of view? What about usability differences from
the end user's point of view?

Thanks again--
Joy Zigo
Interface Architect
HarperCollins Publishers
New York

John Posada wrote on Tue, 2 Mar 2004 16:37:07:

Hi, guys...I received a post off-list on the question about .net and
Help. I was told by the author that it was OK to post to the list.

Mike...thanks loads.

John Posada
Senior Technical Writer
Isogon Corporation


Hi John,

I would have replied directly to the list but I still haven't gotten
around to re-subscribing with my new @macromedia account.

This is a snippet from an old post I made on the HATT list, but
hopefully it helps. Feel free to post it if you think it has value.

For those .NET purists out there, yes this is an over-simplification,
but I find it helps most people come to grips with Help in a .NET world.
As complex as .NET can be for developers, it can be simplified into
three categories for Help authors.=20

Web Services

WinForms - Think of these as traditional Windows-based applications that
just happen to be created with one of the .NET tools. WinForms are
usually documented with the traditional compiled Microsoft HTML Help.
Any tool that creates .CHM files can be used.

WebForms - WebForms are stand alone web applications created with one of
the .NET tools. Microsoft has no current standard for user-assistance or
Help for supporting WebForms. Your options are to use one of the
browser-based Help formats generated by a HAT, or get some developer
assistance and "code-your-own" Help solution.

Web Services - This is the high end of .NET (and what most people think
about when you mention .NET). Web Services are components which are
designed to share and exchange data with each other (even when from
different vendors), and can be linked together like building blocks to
create larger applications. Providing Help for Web Services can be
handled at two levels.

The traditional browser-based help formats can be used (but these do not
run as Web Services, they would be traditional Web technologies sort of
hung on the side of your Web Service), or there is RoboHelp Office Pro
for .NET which (to my knowledge) is the only third party Help solution
to actually run as a .NET Web Service, or, once again the option of


I hope that this break-down helps,=20

Mike Hamilton | Product Manager | Macromedia Inc.
mhamilton -at- macromedia -dot- com |

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