Re: Online Help Help

Subject: Re: Online Help Help
From: Bruce Covell <brucec -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 27 Nov 1994 22:37:55 GMT

In <2ED3DCB3 -at- isgadm -dot- dot -dot- state -dot- az -dot- us> Rose Wilcox
<RWILC -at- fast -dot- dot -dot- state -dot- az -dot- us> writes:

>Lara Butterworth writes:

>>I've just been told that I need to put together on-line help for our
>>release of our software, UWI Masque, version 1.1, expected January

>ROTFL. "You want it *when*? is the first thought that occurred
>when I read this.
>>The software is on MS-Windows, Macintosh, X Window, and VM platforms.
>>anyone know the 'best' (read: fast and easy) way to do on-line help
>>any/all of these environments? I know Windows has a help function,
but I'm
>>trying to seek alternatives to either (1) using Balloon help for the
>>(my boss says it's not hip enough); or (2) having ASCII text file
dumps as
>>an attempt at help for all environments.

>The fast-and-easy way to create help in MS Windows is to use a tool
>such as RoboHelp or Doc-to-Help or any of the plethora of other tools
>available. You would possibly want to do software evaluation before
>deciding on your tool. You *can* write MS Windows help in any word
>processor that creates an RTF file. You then must have access to the
>Windows Developer's kit so you can compile. Not having a tool gives
>you a much greater learning curve time.

>Unfortunately there is not one good way to have
>on-line help that matches in functionality for all those different
>In fact, to *my* knowledge, there is *no* way to have matching help for
>any *two* of those platforms. If they have to
>be the same, ASCII text dumps are going to be your best bet.

>In terms of staffing, if you do use automated tools and you have to
>by January 15, I would suggest you need a writer full time per
>You will no doubt have a learning curve, and even with this level of
>you may find it impossible to make your date.

>In addition, you will have a maintenance issue with a different tool

>>Any comments would be appreciated! If you have experience with
>>on-line help (I know its a different 'philosophy'), please pass this

>If you are going with ASCII text dumps, it doesn't really matter,
>you are, in my opinion, not really "helping" your reader. If you go
>automated tools, you need to write based on your tool to some extent.
>example, with Doc-to-Help you can take your Word manual and have help
>that matches your manual. RoboHelp allows you to use the Windows
>Help features more easily, so you can make a more customized type of
>using segment hyper-graphics with hotspots, for instance. (Yeah, I
>you can do this is Doc-to-Help too, but Robohelp makes it easier.)

>There is not room on this list to write a book about how on-line help
>from hard copy doc. Go buy a book or two! One good book for the
>environment which also gives good overall information about the
>and roles of both types of doc is "Developing Online Help for Windows"
>Scott Boggan, David Farkas, and Joe Wellinske from SAMS Publishing.

>>I'm only nine months into this career, and know very little (read:
>>about writing on-line documentation. Unfortunately, noone around here

>Good luck and have fun. I love creating online help personally. I
>talk to your management about the communication problems inherent in
>given a time-consuming task requiring upfront design and planning so
>in the life-cycle of your product. If it's a Beta release, I suggest
>plan on
>a later delivery of on-line help, depending on what you decide to do
>your tool problem.

>Sorry I couldn't be more help (no pun intended).
>rwilc -at- fast -dot- dot -dot- state -dot- az -dot- us
>ncrowe -at- primenet -dot- com

>"The way to write is well, and how is your own business."
>A.J. Leibling

Here's some relevant (perhaps) information from a posting I found on
CompuServe. Hope it helps.

HLPDK Professional Author V12.2 is available.

HyperAct, Inc. announced the general availability of the
Help Development Kit - Professional Author version 12.2.

HLPDK/PA is the commercial successor to the successful HLPDK
product developed and distributed by HyperAct, Inc.

New in this version :

- Re-Written from scratch "WinHelp -> HLPDK" converter, this
is the time to take the WinHelp documents you created to
HTML, OS/2 IPF or other HLPDK supported targets. This
version is FAST, accurate, and can handle user defined
word wrap and documents previous versions could not.

- Baggage manager in the native Dos Help Engines.

- Enhanced hypermedia sensitive editor.

HLPDK/PA adds on the proven HLPDK HDF language, by including
improved compilers, documentation and the new HLPDK Editor -
A Fast HLPDK Sensitive editor, that allows you to create and
manage your HLPDK databases with a multiple window editor,
fast search and replace, built in spell checker, quick topic
verification, integrated database generator, built-in help
compiler and hypermedia file management.
You have never been able to create HLPDK documents that easy!

The HLPDK/PA product provides a hypertext, hypermedia and help
database development kit that includes 2 royalty free help
engines, and help compilers with a built in cross reference tool,
supports creation of DOS help databases, popular source files,
Windows (winHelp & Multimedia Viewer), OS/2 (IPF), WWW
and DESQview/X help source files!. Creates text and word processors
documents with automatic table of contents, glossary and index from
the same source.

Write once, help many!

Features :
Topics, PopUps, Links, Keywords, Text Formats, Navigational and
Structural facilities, Target Code insertion, Multiple module files,
Automatic Pascal/C/C++ reference generation, Exception handling,
Multiple file target databases, Graphics, Sound, Groups, Application
Launch, Automatic exports creation, user defined link templates and

Targets :
Native(PX), Native(MEM), winHelp 3.0, winHelp 3.1, Multimedia Viewer,
THELP, QuickHelp, TVHC, PopHelp, DESQview/X, OS/2, Text, Word
Processors Documentation (Via RTF), Sony MM Player (Via MM Viewer),
World Wide Web HTML supported readers (Windows, Macintosh, Unix-Motif,
VMS and more).

Platforms :
Help Compilers are available for DOS, DPMI, Windows and OS/2 platforms.

As a bonus - HLPDK/PA includes updated versions of RC2HDK, WH2HDK,

HLPDK/PA is available from

HyperAct, Inc.
P.O.Box. 5517
Coralville IA 52241 U.S.A
Compuserve - 76350,333
Phone/Fax - (319) 351-8413

Price - $299, but a special promotion price until Dec. 15 is $149.
For upgrade prices please contact HyperAct, Inc. directly.

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