JSP-based Help

Subject: JSP-based Help
From: Chuck Martin <cm -at- writeforyou -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 09:56:25 -0700

I've posted this also to HATT....

OK, I've been doing some searching and haven't found what I'm looking
for. Here's the deal: a web application. Originally written in PHP
(the help too), the company decided to move to a JSP solution. The
product can be customized, either by us or by the customer, with a
Java-based tool.

The help. An ultimate goal is to develop a plug-in for the tool where
we and customers can suthor and modify the help system. Until then,
looking for pre-packaged solutions.

I know RoboHelp, so suggested that. It's a mature product and its
WebHelp provides robust functionality. It's API is easy to implement
within the product architecture. But I got asked one question at a
planning meeting today that brought me up short, and I've spent the
couple of hours since reasearching without success.

The essential question: can I build the hepl in JSP pages that unclude
custom tags? Such tags contain information about the interface,
information that can be modified. So instead of static HTML text
describing a field with a static label, the help text is created on
the fly based on the customer's customizations.

I wasn't sure about RH being able to manage this. I saw no way to have
RH create .jsp pages rather than .htm, although I know that I could
(should) just retyle the file name. Each and every time I create a new
topic (and hope I don't ferget sometime when I'm pushing through some
work). I use Dreamweaver as the actual authoring tool, but I've not
worked with JSP before, so I don't know if there are any issues there.

In the meeting, I thought of DeveHelp. Checked out their site. Little
new (other than it now works with DW MX 2004), and no comfort
regarding the JSP question.

Basically, it looks like it's desired that I use custom tags in the
content pages that would be serverd by the applicaiton server, and the
app server would replace the tags with the appropriate content as the
pages are served.

With all that DW can do, I imagine it handles JSP with some aplomb.
But with no direct experience, I fear I'd be resigned to editing in
the Code pane. And I'd not know if there's a way to locally test.

Any ideas as far as tools or techniques to use in this situation?
Having a tool that can also output printed (PDF) is one reason why
I've leaned toward RH. Is there a reasonable way to use the RH/DW
combination and accomplish the JSP stuff as well?

Chuck Martin
User Assistance & Experience Engineer
twriter "at" sonic "dot" net www.writeforyou.com

"I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me.
The day may come when the courage of Men fail, when we forsake our
friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day!
This day, we fight!"
- Aragorn

"All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given you."
- Gandalf


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