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I've created help files using both ForeHelp and RoboHelp. Each has their
strengths and weaknesses, my personal preference is RoboHelp.
RoboHelp does require Microsoft Word, but then you also get all the advantages
of a powerful word processing package complete with features such as searching
for styles, etc. Since ForeHelp incorporates their own word processor into the
application, you get much less. One caveat - Windows Help (WinHelp) doesn't
support all of the features in Word and it can lead to problems. On one
project I was getting a lot of compiler errors that were indicating that
something was wrong with the RTF file (topics defined twice, context strings
not found, and so on), but I couldn't find the problem. It turned out that the
document had been edited (not by me) with the Word Revision Marks feature
turned on. Once I merged the revisions the file compiled with no problem.
ForeHelp does have a very nice WYSIWYG interface. The Navigator and other
graphical project management tools are very useful. ForeHelp technical support
is also very prompt and helpful. A help file I was creating required an
unusual font and I was having trouble getting it to appear correctly in the
compiled help topics. ForeHelp came up with a workaround for me in about three
RoboHelp is not WYSIWYG and personally I prefer that. Since the context
strings and bitmap references in my document appear on the screen I can
directly manipulate them, delete them etc. In true WYSIWYG fashion, ForeHelp
hides all context strings for jumps and popups. On occasion, I've manually cut
and rearranged jump points manually (within the same help topic) in ForeHelp
but inadvertently did not cut/move the context string. When I compiled the
file, ForeHelp flagged that context string as an error. Since the context
string isn't visible on the screen, I had a heck of a time 1) finding the
problem and then 2) deleting the hidden context string.
The documentation for RoboHelp is poorly organized and poorly indexed (IMHO).
It is almost impossible to find information short of reading the manual cover
to cover. What is there, though, is very good. The documentation for ForeHelp
is good but there is not enough detail.
Senior Technical Writer
jody -at- manu -dot- com