Re: Help tools and manuals

Subject: Re: Help tools and manuals
From: "Digitome Ltd." <digitome -at- IOL -dot- IE>
Date: Sat, 2 Mar 1996 15:46:32 +0000

Dan Glovier

>My company is producing a new product in a Microsoft environment (we're one
>of those fancy Microsoft Solution Provider people). Due to this status, the
>People Who Make Decisions think it would be a good thing if we did the help
>file and manual with a Microsoft product. They want a separate look, feel,
>and layout for each of these docs. That means two separate files. This is a
>big piece of software. I would guess the printed manual would be around
>550-600 pages.

>Well, for the help file we could use Doc-to-Help with MSW 6.0, but I am
>concerned on how D2H will handle a super big file. Any suggestions, comments,
>or different ideas? What does Microsoft use for their help files?

SGML is at least a part of Microsoft's internal Help/Multimedia Viewer
development tools. The "programmability" of SGML documents makes it a good
choice in situations where you want a different look, fell or even content
between on-line and paper but maintain both in a single source. Size of file
is not a problem with SGML either. The US DOD has one that is 2GB in size.
Essentially, all the necessary RTF markup codes required for the help
compiler are generated from the SGML by translation software.

>I think that the printed manual will have to be done in a different tool than
>MSW 6.0. We used to use Ventura 4.1.1 for our manuals, but now that Corel has
>basically killed its uses in the tech document field, we have not yet migrated
>somewhere else. Frame seems to be the way to go. Has anyone had any experience
>with their Ventura filter/converter?

Apparantly, Corel are moving Ventura in the direction of SGML much the way
Frame has "Frame+SGML". They have announced licencing of some SGML tools
such as validators, document modellers. Do not give up on Ventura for tech
documentation yet.

Finally, HTML3 is an example of an SGML application. Microsoft recently
announnced their intent to move from RTF to HTML3 for on-line help.

Hope this helps,

Sean Mc Grath
SGML Consultant
Digitome Electronic Publishing
digitome -at- iol -dot- ie


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