Re: Frame Help vs. others

Subject: Re: Frame Help vs. others
From: David Demyan <concord -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 11 Jul 1995 06:25:53 -0700

You wrote:

>I'm interviewing for a job where they intend to produce some hard-copy
>doc in Frame (which I'm comfortable with), but then have someone else
>do on-line Help in RoboHelp or Doc-to-Help with *Word*.

>This surprises me, and isn't the way I would go; am I missing
>something? Are those various other Help tools (which I've browsed at a
>workshop or two) somehow better than Frame? This would be for Windows,
>incidentally -- maybe that's significant.


I've used both products and can tell you there is a world of difference
from the user's point of view. I chose to use FrameViewer when I wanted
to publish the paper document in electronic form. In other words, Frame-
Viewer worked well to convert paper to substantially the same content
on-line (with hypertext links, TOC, and index active to help the reader

I chose RoboHelp to create executable WinHelp files. The content was
substantially different, the methodology used to organize and link the
information was substantially different, and the users use them in a
very different way than they would the FrameViewer files. Note that I
said "executable" files. This requires some clarification and the
admission that WinHelp and FrameViewer do share on thing: they require
another program to be viewable. WinHelp files require the MS Windows
help engine (shipped with every copy of Windows 3.1 and 95) to become
viewable on the user's PC. FrameViewer files require either the Frame-
viewer executable file shipped by Frame (at additional cost) or the
full FrameMaker software to view those files (in addition to Windows
if you are using a DOS-based PC platform).

Major differences:
1) FrameViewer files can be used on PC, Mac, or UNIX
platforms; WinHelp files cannot unless they are converted (a big
2) FrameViewer and WinHelp have a very different "look-and-feel."
Windows Help files are ubiquitous and very familiar to users of any
Windows-based program. FrameViewer (used as Help)files are not
wide-spread. Personally, I find the Help system for the FrameMaker (Win)
program hard to use, simply because I am so used to using the friendly
WinHelp conventions.

Now I must also admit that you can emulate the WinHelp look and feel
with FrameViewer, but that seems like using the wrong tool to do the
job to me, since it is so easy to create a WinHelp system using any one
of the RFT-based authoring systems. And didn't I read somewhere that
FrameMaker 5.0 offers some kind of WinHelp creation environment?

Best regards,

Dave Demyan *** Mendem Concord, Inc.
(908) 753-8500 *** One Mountain Blvd.
concord -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com *** Warren, NJ 07059
FAX: (908) 754-8224

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