RE: Tools for Online Help

Subject: RE: Tools for Online Help
From: "Daniel Ng" <kjng -at- gprotechnologies -dot- com>
To: "'Leonard C. Porrello'" <Leonard -dot- Porrello -at- SoleraTec -dot- com>, "'Ronquillo, Michael'" <mronquillo -at- equitrac -dot- com>, "'techwr-l List'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 4 Apr 2008 14:29:54 +0800

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Aye agree. Well said. We are using flare over here

-----Original Message-----
From: Leonard C. Porrello [mailto:Leonard -dot- Porrello -at- SoleraTec -dot- com]
Sent: Friday, April 04, 2008 1:15 AM
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

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

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 run.

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

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+leonard -dot- porrello=soleratec -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+leonard -dot- porrello=soleratec -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- c
om] On Behalf Of Ronquillo, Michael
Sent: Thursday, April 03, 2008 9:16 AM
To: techwr-l List
Subject: Tools for Online Help

I'm looking for a tool for creating online help. I know there's
RoboHelp, but I find it very overwhelming.

I heard there is a tool out there where you can make it in Word. Anyone
know of any easy programs, preferably free?

Michael Ronquillo

Technical Writer - Equitrac

1-800-472-9532 x2334

mronquillo -at- equitrac -dot- com


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!

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Tools for Online Help: From: Ronquillo, Michael
RE: Tools for Online Help: From: Leonard C. Porrello

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