Re: On-line help questions

Subject: Re: On-line help questions
From: Rose Wilcox <RWILC -at- FAST -dot- DOT -dot- STATE -dot- AZ -dot- US>
Date: Wed, 24 May 1995 15:50:00 PDT

Amanda asks:

>1. Does anyone have any software recommendations for Windows Help?
> RoboHelp? Doc-to-Help? Forehelp? I'm working on a PowerMac 7100.

I like RoboHelp personally. However, I don't know if it works on a PowerMac
7100.

>2. Does anyone know of any seminars/classes that would be helpful
> for learning on-line help software and/or the basics of writing
> on-line help?

I've heard that the Horton-based seminar is good. However, I learned by
reading the "Developing Online Help for Windows" book by Boggan, Farkas, and
Welinske, the RoboHelp manual, the Winhlp list, and by playing with
RoboHelp. I heard the book is out-of-print, but I also keep hearing that it
will be back in print soon with added info. I also would encourage you to
join the Winhlp list. Periodically a list of other Internet Winhelp
resources is published which should be helpful.

3. How about any books that will help me with the basics of writing
on-line help?

See above.
Also check around for magazine articles. Do library research, especially if
your library has a good selection of computer mags.

4. Are there any *Supreme* "Do's and Don't's" that I should be aware
of when writing on-line help?

Don't use borders in your tables in winhelp!
Don't let the developers push you around and tell you it will be easy to tie
in your context-sensitive help, so "don't worry about it until one day
before the program is due"!
Don't be too intimidated to play around and try new things.
Don't be too shy to ask questions (you have a good start!)
Unless you are contracted to deliver an on-line book, don't expect the help
file to be "just like a book!"

Do take the time to work on design, organization, and styles up front before
you jump into writing your first deliverable.
Do compile often while you are learning, or even after you have a handle on
using your tool. Compiling fairly often makes it a little easier to find
your errors.
Do look at other examples of on-line help files to see what features you
like.
Do think like a user as much as possible.
Do include a good set of search keywords, or better yet, full-text search
capabilities.
Do print your help file to give to your reviewers along with the executable.
Do use all the resources available to you to figure things out including the
books, the lists, and phone support.

Have fun!

Rosie Wilcox
rwilc -at- fast -dot- dot -dot- state -dot- az -dot- us
ncrowe -at- primenet -dot- com
"It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true
mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible." - Oscar Wilde


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