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Doc-To-Help has changed a great deal from 2005 and is certainly worth a
look. Although you can still use Word documents as your source, you don't
have to -- HTML source documents are also supported, which can be handled in
any HTML editor (Dreamweaver and Frontpage have built in toolbars).
The latest version, Doc-To-Help 2008, has an entirely new GUI, and I
recommend you have a look using the free downloads. Later this year
(summer), an internal editor will be added that handles XHTML documents as
the source. I believe it is the only HAT that allows you to combine Word,
HTML, and XHTML documents for your source.
pauln -at- helpauthors -dot- com
MS Help MVP
ComponentOne Doc-To-Help Certified Trainer and MVP
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 Leonard C. Porrello
Sent: Thursday, April 03, 2008 1:15 PM
To: Ronquillo, Michael; techwr-l List
Subject: RE: Tools for Online Help
If you are interested in true on-line help, you need to seriously consider
dumping Word. Nevertheless, Doc-to-Help uses Word files as a source for
on-line help output. I last used Doc to Help in 2005, however, and I found
it to be far inferior to what I consider bone fide Help Authoring Tools
(HATs) such as Help & Manual, Flare, and RoboHelp.
It seems to me that authoring in Word with the end of using word docs for
on-line help is like creating Word docs by first typing all one's docs on a
typewriter and then scanning them into Word. If you want first rate on-line
help, you need a tool designed to create first rate on-line help.
The learning curve may look steep for HATs, but I didn't find it terribly
daunting. As Geoff points out, when you start out, you can just go with the
basics. As you become more experience, you can start adding bling. That's
when it starts getting fun.
When I started technical writing, I cut my teeth on Frame. In subsequent
jobs, I've used Frame and Word. I've been using HATs almost exclusively for
the past four years, and I never want to go back to a paper-based paradigm.
The first serious work I did with on-line help was with RoboHelp5. I used it
for a few years, but when I started with a new company and needed to acquire
a HAT, it was rumored that RoboHelp was to be no more.
At that time, Flare was just finishing its first beta cycle, and I was able
to sign up as a beta tester. I also revisited Doc-to-Help and tested Author
It. After extensive testing over the course of several months, I ended up
purchasing Help & Manual. I continue to be very pleased. I found Help &
Manual to be at least on par with Flare and much more flexible and powerful
than RoboHelp5. I'm not sure how it stacks up against RoboHelp7. Help &
Manual includes RTF import. I would bet that RoboHelp and Flare do too.
Regarding cost, you should seriously consider what Geoff points out. The
free tools that you may find will be far less efficient (and I would add
powerful) than any professional HAT. You might also want to consider that a
HAT that supports variables, single sourcing, and embedding chunks of
content can potentially save you a tremendous amount of time in the long
Before you decide what you want to do, I'd recommend you download demo
versions of Help & Manual, Flare, Robohelp7, and Doc-to-Help, import a Word
doc into each, and see what you can do from there. The HATs might not be as
bad as you fear.
Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more. http://www.DocToHelp.com/TechwrlList
True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity! http://www.helpandmanual.com
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