online help for web pages

Subject: online help for web pages
From: "Shifra Goldmeier" <shifrag -at- newsalert -dot- com>
To: <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2000 08:15:30 +0200

Good Morning, all.

Background:

I have experience creating on-line help of the win help variety, using
RoboHelp.

For the past couple of jobs I have been mainly writing documentation for
print, for end users. I am currently a lone writer working at a company that
provides web pages and content, and writing 'internal' documentation from
R&D for production (and loving it).

I must admit that I have been ignoring all help discussions on the list -
thinking I would not need the info - and there is always the archives...I
checked the techwr-l site, and read the comparisons between helps helpful,
but I need more details....If someone would point me to a specific thread in
the archives, I would appreciate it. - My searching did not seem to be
getting me the info I needed.

Well, the new version of the product has some features that require some
sort of guide. (Originally they wanted a PDF'd User's manual that could be
printed and they may still want it....) Since I am the only writer around
here, Product strategy approached me for the job (not that I do not have
enough to do) - so I am back to doing that end user stuff.

Being that we did not want to invest a tool I originally proposed a 'fake'
help in PDF. a help button on the screen that would open a 'clickable'
screen capture, that would open to a page of explanation with a back button.
They loved the idea, but there seems to be a fear in the company that the
people who need to view this will not have the reader downloaded, and will
not know how to download it. I suggested looking into HTML help (using
RoboHelp), and now they are willing to purchase a 'tool'. (They like the
idea of a 'clickable' screen capture with popups). When I went to the ehelp
website (after searching for bluesky) I found that there are many different
types of help that I am not currently familiar with.

Dilemma:

1. I would like to know which kind of help you recommend, or perhaps just an
explanation of the differences between:
- web help
- html help
- java help...

Also , any explanation of how to differentiate when purchasing the needed
software - the website lists some components individually and some only sold
with office - it seems. None of this is cheap. If I am going to request a
purchase, I want to justify it to myself, and make sure I am not wasting my
company's money.

2. Once we have decided on a help type, can I assume that being familiar
with an older version of RoboHelp will decrease my learning curve. I took a
look at ForeHelp's site also but the 'fear of the unknown' and the deadline
date (two weeks away) took me back to Robo Help.

I guess that's it.

All advice appreciated.

Be well,
Shifra





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