Online help/formats?

Subject: Online help/formats?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>, "'Andriene Ferguson'" <Andriene -dot- Ferguson -at- INEACORP -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2000 12:55:01 -0400

Andriene Ferguson currently uses <<...RoboHelp Classic to prepare our online
help in winhelp format. We are thinking of switching to another format, such
as HTML help or Webhelp.>>

Whenever you contemplate such a change, always ask yourself three questions:
Are our customers asking us to change? What problem are we trying to solve?
What usability improvements would be possible by adopting a new format? If
you don't get a compelling answer to all of these questions, you should
seriously reconsider whether making the change is really worth your while.
As the old saying goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

<<I am compiling information about the pros and cons of switching from
Winhelp to HTML or Webhelp, including technical and distribution issues.>>

I haven't kept up with HTMLHelp or WebHelp, since my clients are currently
quite happy with the simple, vanilla WinHelp files I create for them. So
I'll leave it to the more help-savvy techwhirlers to provide details. One
concern I have with HTMLhelp is its close integration with Internet
Explorer, and what this means for those who don't want IE on their computer.
I haven't like the implementations of HTMLhelp that I've used thus far (I've
found them less useful than contemporaneous WinHelp systems), but I can't
say in all fairness whether this has been a result of poor implementation of
the new technology, or inherent limitations in the HTMLhelp system.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Hart's law of gravitation: Deadlines are the documentation equivalent of
black holes: the closer the deadline approaches, the harder it becomes to
escape its pull, and the faster events accelerate in their rush towards the
deadline; at the technical communication equivalent of an "event horizon",
nothing escapes that pull. And the closer you approach a deadline, the
faster things are moving and the less time everyone has to react
appropriately."--Geoff Hart

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