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I've used Doc-To-Help on my last two contract assignments and have been very pleased with it. I evaluated several HATs before choosing Doc-To-Help and the common flaw in the others was that they couldn't import my complex Word document without requiring me to do some very major cleanup.
My typical (and preferred) workflow is to create a Word document, publish it as a PDF with Acrobat Professional and then create a Doc-To-Help project based on it. Doc-To-Help allows me to then publish it as CHM, HLP, or what they call NetHelp (a version designed to be delivered over the web and displayed in a browser). If I have changes to make, I open the Word document and make the changes, republish the PDF and then open my Doc-To-Help and republish my help output... one button click.
At this point, I feel like I've found my preferred HAT and it'll probably be a long time before I revisit the others.
Mike Starr WriteStarr Information Services
Technical Writer - Online Help Developer - Technical Illustrator
Graphic Designer - Desktop Publisher - MS Office Expert
(262) 694-1028 - mike -at- writestarr -dot- com - http://www.writestarr.com
Paul Neshamkin wrote:
> 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.
> Paul Neshamkin
> pauln -at- helpauthors -dot- com
> MS Help MVP
> ComponentOne Doc-To-Help Certified Trainer and MVP
> The Paul Neshamkin Group
> -----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 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.
> Here is a URL that will enable you to compare HATs:
> One thing the page doesn't mention is quality of user support. Help & Manual
> documentation is excellent, and its user support via the company hosted
> forum is extraordinary and free.
> Best of luck!
> Leonard C. Porrello
> SoleraTec LLC
> 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.
> 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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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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