Re: Help in Evaluating HATs

Subject: Re: Help in Evaluating HATs
From: Klaus Nji <makaveli_0000 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: Rigo <rigo -dot- vangheel -at- 4ST -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2007 03:55:11 -0800 (PST)


Based on a quick review, your product does not seem to offer the ability to automate the output production process using batch files.

If so, could you please elaborate.

Thank You.


----- Original Message ----
From: Rigo <rigo -dot- vangheel -at- 4ST -dot- com>
To: Klaus Nji <makaveli_0000 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
Sent: Monday, January 15, 2007 4:42:15 AM
Subject: Re: Help in Evaluating HATs

Dear Klaus,

Did you already find a solution for an online documementation; online
help or content management needs?
Did you look at to find out about HelpServer?

HelpServer is a recent product developed in Belgium by 4ST, a group of
people working in the content management, online help and documentation
for over 20 years.

HelpServer makes use of the latest techniques and technology to provide
an all-in-one solution to create and manage content and to provide all
the needed functionality for controlled access by all authorized
people. The functionality includes services to access the content for
online help, online documentation, print or any other purpose you have
in mind.

HelpServer is web based, server based and content can be managed from
all platforms (Java) and accessed immediately from the HelpServer
repository (all JDBC compliant relational data bases like MySQL,
SQLserver, DB2..) by all applications able to launch a URL. This means
that scalability is practically unlimited.
APIs to do this are provided with the product.

HelpServer is the ideal and affordable solution for a single small
department with a limited number of users but also for a multinational
serving thousands of users. You can be up and running in a few days.
HelpServer is very intuitive and has a very low learning curve.

HelpServer maintains your content in a tree structure where users can
start from their personal entry point and drill down the structure
similar to MS Explorer. In addition, the built in search engine allows
simple or complex searches to find specific content making use of the
metadata stored at content creation time. Another way to find content
is making use of the automatically created and maintained word index.
Administrators and authors have their own, additional search functions
to facilitate content maintenance.
Applications can also access the repository for online contextual help,
using the provided APIs. Setting up this online help is a matter of
point and click. Linking content to fields in panes and/or windows is
done automatically.

Because HelpServer is real single source and topic oriented, all
content available for online help can be reused for documentation and
vice versa. HelpServer also contains functions to convert documents
like Word or WinHelp into it's own XML based format..

Providing content for your web site or intranet can be delegated to the
place where the content best can be produced. Once your web html
connects to a folder in HelpServer (again, a matter of point and click)
creating and maintaining content doesn't require any technical
knowledge from the author anymore.

HelpServer is able to load all files that a browser is able to show.
All office files (Word, Powerpoint, spreadsheets, Flash, pdf etc.) can
be loaded, meta data is extracted at load time to make them searchable.
Video, images, audio, they all can be included in your content
management and reused without replication wherever appropriate.

HelpServers built in extended checkin and checkout functions allow
unlimited and safe co-authoring.

How can HelpServer assist you in setting up user assistance for
First of all, setting up the help is very simple and there is no need
for frequent and continuous exchange of information between authors and
developers. For the authors, setting up contextual help on all levels
(application window, pane and field) is a matter of point and click.
No need for map ID manipulation or definition, HelpServer takes care of
that. No need for shipping CHM and/or HTML files to the users either
unless they have no internet connection.
Users have unlimited access to all the content related to the
application and the job they do.
Users can add their own comments if the provided help is insufficient
or not clear to them.
At the end, users can post questions on the application forum so that
their peers can help them when needed.

HelpServer is also able to create CHM files, HTML files, pdf, JavaHelp

It also provides powerful translation assistance.

HelpServer also includes a powerful versioning system. It allows you
to maintain versions for all your documents including Word,
Spreadsheets, Powerpoint, pdf etc.
It offers you a way to browse a document the way it was at any
date/time in the past..

And there is much more.

If you have more specific questions about certain areas, please let me

We also want propose an online demo to show you the product and answer
your questions. Whenever it suits you and eventually other people in
your company interested in HelpServer.

Kind regards,
Rigo Vangheel
Klaus Nji wrote:
> I've been reviewing several HATs for our company. All of our documents
> are currently in Word, which are then converted to PDF, a very painful
> process.
> Before setting out to look for a HAT, we specified our minimum requirements as follows:
> - Tool should take Word files as input with little modification required on the final content.
> - Output formats required: CHM and PDF, at a minimum.
> - There should be support for conditional output, at the text level. We should be able to control output text based by manipulating certain variables or attributes.
> - Automation of the ouput building process should be supported. It should be possible to write some kind of batch file, which will run every night to produce the output.
> - One shoule be able to customize the PDF output. At a minimum, the PDF should have compressed bookmarks.
> - Support for Modular Help, where by smaller books can be amalgamated into bigger books.
> - Provision for automatic indexing.
> - Seamless acceptance of very large Word documents.
> - Good editor.
> - Active online user forum.
> So far, we have looked at:
> - Help & Manual (H&M)
> - RoboHelp Office (RH)
> - DocToHelp (D2H)
> - AuthorIT (AIT)
> Our opinion is as follows:
> Help & Manual seems to satisfy almost all of the requirements. However, there are some unanswered questions:
> - It seems to have limited support for automatic indexing and modular help.
> - Word documents must be in .rtf format.
> - Output from imported Word documents lose all original links. A pain to correct.
> We liked the intuitive and user friendly interface H&M offerered. Most impressive was its flexible support for conditional text.
> RoboHelp Office is very good as well but also had some limitations:
> - Conditional text is restricted to the inclusiion and exclusion of text.
> - Automating builds does not seem to be supported, or is not well documented.
> - Importing large Word documents and creating PDFs seems clumsy. Heck, I have not yet been able to successfully create a PDF document.
> - Uncertainty about what Adobe will do with this product.
> - Relatively quiet user forum.
> DocToHelp has a very good interface but like the others has its limitations:
> - Editing source to making a change in a project variable requires one to open and close Word. This is not very good.
> - Modular Help is not supported for printed documents.
> - PDF output generation is new and offers very little flexibility.
> - Relatively quiet user forum.
> So, we are leaning towards D2H or H&M.
> What has your experiences been with each product?
> Thanks in advance.


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!

Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include single source authoring, team authoring,
Web-based technology, and PDF output.

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