windows help summary (long)

Subject: windows help summary (long)
From: mpriestley -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM
Date: Tue, 26 Apr 1994 10:33:00 EDT

In the interests of maintaining readability, I've cut-and-pasted the info
people sent me into a semblance of order. I've given credit at the end
to all the people who sent me information. There are a lot of very helpful
people on this list!

Here is the summary:


You actually don't need a tool other than the help compiler (available free
from lots of places, eg Microsoft), an RTF editor (eg WinWord), and an
ASCII editor. Can get a bit tedious, though, without the help of macros in
the RTF editor.

Window's Help Author: unsupported, available on Microsoft Developer's CD.
Allows greater control and flexibility, and allows you to tinker with
underlying files.

Microsoft Multimedia Viewer Publishing Toolkit: may be too technical for some.
Has everything you need except the editor.
$297.00 at Programmer's Connection
(1-800 336 1166)

Doc-to-Help: automates process of turning a Word for Windows document into a
.HLP file. If you're familiar with WinWord and writing paper documents, it's a
way to crank something out with minimal effort. Best suited to translating
existing paper docs to online.

RoboHelp 2.0
Blue Sky Software
$439.00 at Programmer's Paradise
(1-800 445-7899)
Also works with Word for Windows files as source.
A good solution for Windows help (got some rave reviews!). Best for developing
help from scratch. Great support staff.

Windows Help Magician 2.5: works from Word for Windows source, has many
good features.
Software Interphase Inc.
82 Cucumber Hill Road
Suite 201
Foster Hill, RI 02825
Voice 401 397-2340
Fax 401 397-6814
$163.00 at Programmer's Connection
(1-800 336 1166)

ForeHelp: new tool, don't know too much about it.

Visual Help: Shareware, ca. $50. Similar interface to Visual Basic.
Each "topic" (page in help) is a separate form, and there
are different objects you can place on the form, some pictures, some text,
some jumps which require actions. The glossary tool is slick, and so is the
index tool. There are a couple limitations: currently, you can't define
your own "browse" sequences, and you can't indent the jump labels.
Available (along with other shareware tools) at /pub/win3/
("get" the index)

Dovetail help: exports Windows or OS/2 source; also compiles with free reader
for other platforms (Mac, various UNIX flavours). Semi-WYSIWYG authoring
system in the works. From a company in Boulder Colorado. Available as part of
XVT (an application builder), may be available separately.


Journal of the STC Volume 39 Number 4, Fourth Quarter, November 1992
Dated but comprehensive list on pp. 670-71.
Careful, though, cause they were investigating *online documentation* tools and
included things like Dynatext and Framemaker, and I have yet to see either used
for that purpose (although both companies claim it can be done).


Microsoft Developer's CD

Seminar: WinWriters on Developing Online Help for Windows. Taught by Joe
Welinske. Great seminar. WinWriters, Seattle: (206)285-2830. Recommended
Robohelp strongly, and also Doc-to-Help.

The book "Developing Online Help for Windows," by Scott Boggan
David Farkas, and Joe Welinske is also helpful.

WINHLP-L is a list devoted to this topic. Can probably subscribe at

Window's Help Authoring Guide (WHAG) available at: /pub/win3/

CREDITS: Thanks to the following people for their information, offers of
assistance and general helpful attitude:
Dawn-Marie Oliver, September Radecki, Norm Burchard, Frank DiIorio,
Ellen Fenwick, Chuck Martin, Doug Engstrom, and also Fred Rowley of the
INDEX-L list, who let me excerpt from his post there.

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