RE: Need Help selecting Help Tool [LONG]

Subject: RE: Need Help selecting Help Tool [LONG]
From: "Lydia Wong" <lydiaw -at- fpoint -dot- com>
To: "Kathi Knill" <kathi -at- inline-software -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000 11:58:58 -0500

Kathi Knill asked for more information about making a decision to buy
ForeHelp or WebWorks Publisher (WWP).

Kathi, we've used both, including using them separately and together. We've
also used RoboHelp for several years. As Lief pointed out, each tool has
different pros and cons. Which pros and cons mean the most to you are going
to depend on your situation.

To add to that, here are some things you need to ask yourself:

- How large are the doc sets you need to output to the various help formats?
- How often do they need updating, and do you mind/have the time to maintain
two sets of files, or to do the more labor-intensive conversion required to
take your Frame files into a HAT everytime you need a new, updated help
file?
- How comfortable are you with taking the time to learn and configure WWP to
create the various outputs you want? And how much do you enjoy tinkering
with code and scripts?
- How structured are your FrameMaker files and do you have the time to
restructure, retag, and add conditional tags for optimizing the output for
WWP? Also, how consistent is your use of paragraph and character tags in
those files?

And last, but certainly not least:
- Are you looking for a HAT or a conversion tool or both?

You seem like you know some about both tools, but just to reiterate for the
group, WWP is NOT a HAT. It is a high-powered conversion tool for converting
FrameMaker files to various other file formats (including supplementary
files, like CNT files for WinHelp). What you do from there is use other
tools to get the final output you need (like using the HTML Help Workshop or
the WinHelp compiler, if you are looking at compiled forms of help). (The
same things can be said for MIF2GO, I believe, though I haven't used that
product.)

WWP does not give you the useful interface that true HATs provide. If you
use WWP, you have to be willing to put the time and effort into your Frame
files to have them convert into usable formats for online help. WWP will not
help you add links, track and update indexing, or do the many other nice
things to your files that a HAT does.

I think both these tools offer demo or trial versions, so it would be worth
some time investigating them, using them with your current files (for
example, save your Frame files to MIF and import them into ForeHelp and see
how things look), and reading more about them. You can find out more about
WWP from some white papers available at www.scriptorium.com.

Good luck with your decision! It's not an easy one (time or money wise). If
you'd like to ask me more about how we use ForeHelp and WWP, please feel
free to contact me.

Lydia : )
-------------------
Lydia Wong
Technical Writer
FarPoint Technologies, Inc.
www.fpoint.com <http://www.fpoint.com>





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