Need New Help Solution - Advice?

Subject: Need New Help Solution - Advice?
From: "Barbara Vega" <BarbaraV -at- libertyims -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 09:37:59 -0800

Hello all

We have pushed Robohelp to its farthest possible use via adding
javascript, modularizing the Help to "fool" it into giving us some items
we want, etc., etc. With the latest embellishment, we are now finding
that Robo is behaving in an unstable fashion. Weird things happen like
the index tab will suddenly disappear or not include all the subbooks.
I am also very aware that Robo is "going away" (was sold to Adobe) and
that there is an upcoming Flare product, etc. I am also aware that
Microsoft is coming out with some new products.

Still, my boss asked me yesterday if, given all the instability of Robo
for us at this point, and given the special things we need to do, if it
would not be better to have a Web Help page, or something of that sort,
more of a home-grown solution. (I know Robo has web help too - but he
means a solution we design ourselves.)

To assist me/us in our decision making process, I wonder if anyone could
give me some ideas about this suggestion, or about other products.

I did not post this to a Robo list because more than likely I would just
be told to talk to Robo etc., and since they are undergoing changes /
going away anyway that was not much of an option.

The main things we are trying to do with the Help or have done with the
Help are

1) Branching/Customization. Changing the product name at run time to
sell for OEM. (We have done this). We discovered a method to do this
(adding javascript to the topics) but it does not change in the TOC and
images of course are a problem. The author of the method doubts it can
be done with .chm's, though it may be able to be done with web, he

2) Modularization of the Help file - We "fooled" Robo into displaying
the name of each subbook and therefore the location of the information
in search lists ( the project name corresponds to the subbook name, so
the location of the info is right in the list, without having to click
"locate". To do this we modularized the Help and then we use the
master/subdocument feature, which works well. But I tell you, it would
be MUCH easier to have one help file, as every time I must make a global
change I have to open 50 subbooks. Also, you cannot print Help from the
Master .chm, so you have to print each one and put them back together.
This is also quite a bear.

I am also posting this on Help Authors, but wondered if I could also get
suggestions here

Thank you so much

Barbara Vega
Senior Technical Writer
Documentation/Technical Writing
Liberty IMS
(714) 751-6900 x251
AIM ID: Byliberty

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