Re: Windows help tools--which to use?

Subject: Re: Windows help tools--which to use?
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 30 May 1996 12:51:34 -0700

At 10:02 AM 5/30/96 -0500, Nora Merhar wrote:

>My questions are

>1. If you use a help tool, which do you use and do you like it?
>2. If you have used more than one tool, which did you prefer?
>3. Is Robohelp really the best, or just the most popular?
>4. Is it better to use a tool, or just code the help without one?

>Any information you could give me would be GREATLY appreciated!

First, Q4 -- use a tool. Definitely! Especially for your first
project! If you choose a tool that displays the footnotes and
formatting codes, you'll learn them sooner or later, but you'll
still want to automate the more repetitive tasks involved in
creating the help file.

OK. Now, Qs1-3. I've used both ForeHelp and RoboHelp (and another
that I won't name because it's terrible and almost unavailable
anyway). Both tools are good. Both get the job done.

ForeHelp is a wysiwyg, stand-alone tool. You won't get much more
than basic wp functionality (insert/delete/copy/basic styles).
However, your development window will look almost exactly like
the final help window. All the formatting codes and footnotes will
be hidden from you, and you'll be forced to use the automated
procedures for everything. This is great if that's your work
style, if you're new to help an unsure about how things should
look, or intimidated when you see a lot of extraneous stuff on
the screen. ForeHelp has some great navigation and debugging
aids.

RoboHelp is a Word add-in and not at all wysiwyg. You'll have
all the wp power of Word behind you. However, your development
window will look like a document,not a help file. You can use
the automated routines for everything you need to do, but you'll
be able to see all the hidden text, footnotes, and formatting
codes that make a help file work. And being able to see the
codes gives you the added advantage of being able to tinker with
them. ;-) This is great if that's your work style, if you want
to be able to scroll through the doc and see all the topics
sequentially, if you really want to learn the structure of the
help file, and if you're too impatient to use automated routines
when a simple cut/paste/edit will accomplish the task faster.

That said, I prefer RoboHelp because I'm a tinkerer. YMMV.

Good luck with your project!

Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com
-- The _Guide_ is definitive.
Reality is frequently inaccurate.

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