Re: HTML Guides

Subject: Re: HTML Guides
From: quills -at- airmail -dot- net
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Sun, 9 Apr 2006 00:00:24 -0500

At 2:43 PM -0700 4/7/06, Heidi Colonna wrote:

Our shop is planning (in the near future) on moving from .pdf guides, mostly user guides, to HTML user guides. In doing some research online, it appears that HTML guides are not all that different from online help systems as far as the chunking of information/topics. The only major difference I've noticed is that in help systems you have a TOC and in an HTML guide you have a list of links.

Some of our guides use information mapping (IM) procedures. In playing with the HTML output of guides with these IM tables, the information mapping tables are lengthy and look bad.

My sense is that as we move to HTML, in our documentation that uses the IM method is going to have to be changed.

Has anyone ever seen or heard pros/cons on using IM tables in HTML guides?

Does anyone know of any good resources/best practices for HTML guides?
Your feedback is appreciated.


You are about to forgo control over the appearance of the text, and exact placement of graphics. In fact, you lose all presentation control in moving to HTML. You also lose any security you may have used in PDF files. Additionally, you will lose any capability of searching globally within the document, unless you find and provide a tool that will do those searches. You will find that, depending on the tool you use, your automation for creating tables of contents and indexes will be limited.

Depending on the tool you use to create your HTML files you may find considerable bloating of the file with extraneous code (e.g. Microsoft Word stuffs enormous amounts of excess, useless code into HTML produced from it). If you are fine with all that, then use your current standards on producing documentation. You can move to a version control system like Visual Source Safe, CVS or any of that ilk, since you will be dealing with text files, so your control of versions can be very precise.

Your control over content won't change, but your control over presentation will be drastically altered.

Scott Turner

WebWorks ePublisher Pro for Word features support for every major Help
format plus PDF, HTML and more. Flexible, precise, and efficient content delivery. Try it today!.
Doc-To-Help includes a one-click RoboHelp project converter. It's that easy. Watch the demo at

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HTML Guides: From: Heidi Colonna

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