TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
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,
>>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
>>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
>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."
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!
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
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).
Help Compilers are available for DOS, DPMI, Windows and OS/2 platforms.
As a bonus - HLPDK/PA includes updated versions of RC2HDK, WH2HDK,
NG2HDK, IL2HDK, TPFHDK, POPHDK, HPCHDK and NewsDB - A $110 Value!
HLPDK/PA is available from
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.