RE: What would replace WebHelp?

Subject: RE: What would replace WebHelp?
From: Chris Despopoulos <despopoulos_chriss -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 30 Sep 2011 05:35:09 -0700 (PDT)

Victoria brings up project bloat as a problem.  Indeed, I have a project now that rejected RoboHelp for that reason...  I have to craft my own help system.  I use FrameMaker -> Doxygen, which makes very light-weight deliverables.  I think light-weight will increasingly be an issue.  Not only is it important for *storing* help on a hand-held app, but also for serving it up.  They might be better than the old phone-modem days, but they still are phones after all.

Rob asks how to make 3-frame help without HATs.  Well, Maker -> Doxygen works ok for me.  It can make search, but that requires PHP on an HTTP server.  There are open source JavaScript search libs out there...  I suppose I could use one of those for search on a file:// system.  I don't get bread crumbs, but Doxygen may support that...  I'm just not sure.  Anyway, the point is that you *can* make HTML that is a Web Help system without the levels of indirection and complexity and project bloat that most HATs introduce.  Personally, I believe all that complexity there to keep other people from copying the techniques.

Rob also asks if there's a search alternative that is HTML-only.  Well, you need a form that takes your search string and executes the search.  Generally, to process a form you need scripting either on the server or the client side.  So that would be JavaScript, PHP, Perl, or what have you. 

But I'll go out on a limb and declare that file:// help systems are a dying breed.  Everybody wants to go social with their help systems, and that requires server-side action.  Also, the day is coming when the "applications" you use will all be clients to servers.  Why would the help ever be on the client side?

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