RE: Help in Evaluating HATs

Subject: RE: Help in Evaluating HATs
From: "Paul Neshamkin" <pauln -at- helpauthors -dot- com>
To: "'Klaus Nji'" <makaveli_0000 -at- yahoo -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2007 21:29:30 -0500


I recommend Doc-To-Help to meet your needs. In response to your "negatives"
I would suggest that actually making the changes in the Word source
documents is actually good design. As far as setting up variables, you may
want to do this with conditional text (possibly "Attributes") in order to
opening the Word documents. As for modular projects supporting printed
manuals, this is something I have tried to get ComponentOne to address. I do
think that it can be done without automation in Doc-To-Help, but it does
take some planning and customization. The question really is do other HATs
offer better methods. PDF output is new, and I think you will see rapid
improvements if you make recommendations. I have already requested some
features that they are adding. The reality is that it is able to handle
conversions that my copy of Acrobat PDF Maker choke on with large Word
documents (over 1,500 pages). As for the user forum, I think that one
problem is that there are more than one place where there is activity. I
have a Yahoo group that also supports some users at

I hope that you will continue to consider this tool, it has served me well
for many years.


Paul Neshamkin
pauln -at- helpauthors -dot- com

ComponentOne Doc-To-Help MVP & Certified Trainer

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+pauln=helpauthors -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+pauln=helpauthors -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf
Of Klaus Nji
Sent: Sunday, January 14, 2007 12:24 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Help in Evaluating HATs

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
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
- 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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Help in Evaluating HATs: From: Klaus Nji

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