Can help files in HTML text be easily converted to other compiled help formats?

Subject: Can help files in HTML text be easily converted to other compiled help formats?
From: Yosuke Ichikawa <ichikawayosuke -at- obun -dot- co -dot- jp>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2000 12:57:48 +0900

Hello listmembers;

Can help files in plain HTML text be converted relatively easily to other compiled help formats?

Background *****************

I've been making paper manuals, but the wave of online manuals has finally caught us.
Now, a potential project involves providing online help for a map-browsing application.
I have zero experience creating help files and neither does anyone else in our company.

Unfortunately, from what the sales people in our company tells me, the client's person in charge is worse; he doesn't know what he's doing. They've so far failed to answer some of our basic questions, like, what platform(s), what format do they want the help files, etc.
Sales wants the project. I'm not doing it if the client can't be clear in what they want and the project is likely to become a mess. But if otherwise, I'm thinking I might enjoy the new challenge.
We're going to meet this person tomorrow to find out.

From our present capabilities, I can tell them tomorrow that we can give them help content in the form of HTML text.

(As for the structure, I'm thinking something like the PageMaker Help; two-leveled TOC with individual pages for each secondary level topic. In each topic page, at the top, a link to go back to the primary level header that contains it, at the bottom, links to go to other related topic pages, and possibly some refernce links within the body text. Finally, a two-leveled index of key words and phrases. Minimum or no graphics, no other fancy stuff. We'll be using FrameMaker to generate the HTML.)

If it turns out they want it in some compiled format, and if they're willing to give us the time to work things out, we can give that a try, too. If not, we can suggest we give them the HTML text and they take it from there.

Hence, the question at the top; if you have structured help content in HTML text, is it relatively easy to convert it to other compiled help formats? If so, we can tell this to our client so that we can get a shot to do at least the HTML text part. (I hope my question is clear, although I might be leaving out critical conditions I'm not aware of. )

Meanwhile, I'm checking the Techwr-l site and reading summaries ("WebHelp vs. HTML Help", "RoboHelp vs. ForeHelp"), articles ("Thoughts abou On-Line Help") and some past threads, and just starting to learn about the type of help formats and tools. I would also appreciate it if you have any suggestions in this line.

End background***************

I would appreciate it if you can also send me your response directly, as I am on digest.
Thanks in advance for any help.

Yosuke Ichikawa
Obun Printing, Tokyo
ichikawayouske -at- obun -dot- co -dot- jp

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