Re: Cross-Platform Help

Subject: Re: Cross-Platform Help
From: Caryn Rizell <CARYN_RIZELL -at- HP-ROSEVILLE-OM2 -dot- OM -dot- HP -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 8 Dec 1995 08:33:20 -0800


I was intrigued by your comments about HTML. Why don't you like it as a
help system? My group is looking into producing our online as HTML, so I
would welcome any feedback you have on why not to do it.



______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: Cross-Platform Help
Author: Non-HP-TECHWR-L (TECHWR-L -at- VM1 -dot- ucc -dot- okstate -dot- edu) at HP-Roseville,unixgw3
Date: 12/8/95 5:46 AM

In article <30C71CEA -at- msmailgw>, Beryl Doane
<BDoane -at- engpo -dot- msmailgw -dot- intermec -dot- com> writes:
|> I'm looking for info on creating online help for multiple platforms. My
|> company develops software for HP-UNIX, SCO-UNIX, Windows, and OS/2. I am
|> looking for a help authoring tool that handles single source files with
|> mutiple output platforms.
|> We have been using Dovetail Help System and XVT development software. The
|> major draw backs are the lack of project management tools, working in tagged
|> ASCII files only, and platform-specific bugs. Has anyone found something
|> like RoboHelp that works across at least 2 other platforms?

One alternative would be to use something like RoboHelp or HyperHelp/ForHelp,
generate RTF output, and run a conversion tool to produce help output
for other systems. There currently are public rtf->html converters
available, for example. A primary issue, of course, is what you will
use for a help viewer on the various systems. Currently on UNIX it is
popular to write help in HTML and use Mosaic or some other viewer. Of
course, this means that your help is constrained by the poverty
of HTML, and if you in fact have a really nice help system (that
you use to do things like separate glossaries, popups, etc.),
translating this to HTML will result in quite a degradation.
(As a help system, HTML is just this side of useless, in my
opinion.) If you *don't* plan to use HTML for UNIX systems, then
it will be necessary for your customers to acquire whatever viewer
will be needed for your help.

I have (experimentally) used FrameMaker to do help files, saved
them in RTF format and brought them up under the MS Windows help
viewer. This works fine, but the links don't get translated
(why FrameMaker doesn't do this, at least as an option, I don't
quite understand). But I believe that with some additional
work you could embed the appropriate RTF links directly in the
FrameMaker document. An approach like this could allow you to
develop help files in FrameMaker, save them as RTF for such
systems as MS Windows, and convert the RTF to HTML or some
other format for the UNIX systems. Now MVS, that's another
problem ...

Gary H. Merrill [Principal Systems Developer, Compiler and Tools Division]
SAS Institute Inc. / SAS Campus Dr. / Cary, NC 27513 / (919) 677-8000
sasghm -at- theseus -dot- unx -dot- sas -dot- com ... !mcnc!sas!sasghm

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