Re: Vendor info

Subject: Re: Vendor info
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- STARBASECORP -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 1995 14:36:11 -0700

Emily Skarzenski wrote...

> I'm looking for info on a product called Universal Help. Apparently, this is a
> help authoring tool that lets you single-source help files for multiple
> platforms, or lets you convert help projects from one platform to another.
> Anybody know anything about this or have contact info for the vendor?


I used Universal-No-****-Help-at-All a few years back when it was
in the 1.x stage and yes, it's true, it does generate both
.rtf and .ipf from the same doc -- but at that time it was...

a) bug ridden
b) painfully slow
c) poorly supported

That said, it was the only game in town, so... Hopefully, if
they're still in business they've gotten better -- but idunno.

The program is a Word add-on, so if you already know Word you're
ahead of the game. And it keeps jump data in .dbf files, so if
you have a dBase database front end you can gen reports.

OS/2 help files, at least in 2.x -- I haven't played with Warp --
are very similar to Windows help files, but have just enough
differences to cause problems. The major difference is that
they build a collapsable table of contents topic from the
order of the topics in the file and the heading levels assigned
to them. This requires a lot of planning to get right (and, back
then, Universal-Useless didn't have any way to move topics
around within the file -- a *major* drawback!!!).

The good news is that .ipf tags are a lot easier to read (and
debug) than .rtf tags are. They look a lot like the dot commands
from coal-burning WordStar.

Another product you might want to investigate (I think they're
still around) is Mirrors. This product (or so I've heard)
converts an existing .rtf file to .ipf. I have no idea how
they handle the generated toc, though, and I've never used
the product so I can't recommend it (of course, using the
product doesn't guarantee that you can actually *recommend*
it, now, does it??? ;-) ).

Hope this helps!

Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- starbasecorp -dot- com

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