Re: MadCap

Subject: Re: MadCap
From: "Bill Swallow" <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "Mike Starr" <mike -at- writestarr -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2006 09:45:01 -0400

The folks over at RoboHelp did their best (probably unintentionally) to
alienate large numbers of HAT users.

Well, I think history proves it was hardly unintentional, and if it
was, dear Lord that's quite a series of "mistakes"!!!

So I'm inclined to think that there are a number of folks
whose ox has been gored and they're lashing out at the original poster
because of it.

I think it was warranted given the whole Jackson Dean incident.

When Flare went into beta, I got a copy and tried it out. What I saw looked
great and I really wanted to adopt it. Unfortunately, there was a
dealbreaker there... Flare doesn't support WinHelp. That was what I was
developing and I felt no need to transition to what I feel are inferior help
formats for desktop application help. Now that Microsoft has announced the
deprecation of WinHelp for Windows Vista the landscape appears to be
changing and I'll have to evaluate my options (although my money is still on
Microsoft changing their mind and including the WinHelp engine with the
release of Vista). And there's no doubt in my mind that both Flare and
RoboHelp will be strong contenders for my HAT-of-choice (along with
AuthorIt, WWP and several others).

MS does not appear to be changing their mind about WinHelp. A
downloadable viewer will be available for end-users who need to view
legacy Help files (they heard the uproar from the Help author
community), but it will in fact not be part of Vista's installation.

However, one thing that galls me is the attitude that if one buys V1.0
software, one should expect it to be only one step above abominable. Sorry,
folks... my attitude is that if you take money for your product, it better
damned well deliver. Bugs are going to happen but rushing a product into
release before it's fully debugged is an unethical business practice in my
book. V1.0 should be as bug-free as V2.0... incremental releases should be
primarily for additional features and functionality, not for bug fixes.

Did it not deliver? Were known issues not documented? Did the product
ship without support? Did the product ship without a direct means of
filing bugs against the application?

No. It shipped with all these things.

I realize that the option of posting anonymously through the listowner has
been around for a number of years but this is the first time I've heard that
it was REQUIRED for anonymous posts to be delivered through that mechanism.
I wonder if you'd expand on your reasoning for making it a requirement.

As a list owner and moderator of many techcomm lists, I thought I'd
throw my $0.02 out there. When an anonymous post hits a list, it can
cause problems, as we've seen. By requiring Anonymous posts to be sent
through the list owner, the owner has the option of evaluating the
message beforehand and avoid such problems by either editing the post,
kicking it back for rework, or just flat out denying it.

I also have to ask, what is the benefit of posting anonymously? I
understand that posting anonymously is beneficial when trying to get
advice on a touchy interpersonal subject, but a tools opinion? IMHO,
posting your thoughts about a tool (especially strongly worded
negative thoughts with a venemous bite) anonymously is childish
behavior at best. We're all professionals here. If you can't feel
comfortable signing your name to an opinion about a piece of software,
then perhaps you should do everyone a favor and just not post those
opinions. Or, better, reword your post so you can communicate your
issues in a manner that fosters open, constructive discussion of the
issues. How's that phrase go? You catch more flies with honey than

That's my stance. If you're finding a problem with a tool - any tool -
by all means share the info! Just please do so on a constructive

Bill Swallow
HATT List Owner
WWP-Users List Owner
Senior Member STC, TechValley Chapter
avid homebrewer and proud beer snob
"I see your OOO message and raise you a clue."

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Re: MadCap: From: Mike Starr

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