Re: Windows help tools--which to use?

Subject: Re: Windows help tools--which to use?
From: John Hedtke <jhedtke -at- OZ -dot- NET>
Date: Fri, 31 May 1996 13:53:49 GMT

Nora Merhar <merhar -at- yooper -dot- switch -dot- rockwell -dot- com> wrote:

>Hi!

>Our group is (finally) moving towards producing Windows help as part of
>our software products, and I have been looking into tools for that
>purpose. It looks to me like Robohelp is the most popular, but I'm a
>little leery of them since they won't give me a demo version to try out
>and they're pretty expensive to buy sight unseen. I have downloaded demo
>versions of Forehelp and HelpBreeze (which I thought looked pretty
>good).

>My questions are

>1. If you use a help tool, which do you use and do you like it?

I started my department with Doc-to-Help and wouldn't touch RoboHelp,
largely because the pre-release manual for the latter was the 4th
worst manual I'd ever seen. No kidding. The salesguy tried to get me
to load the software and use it; I was sure to love it, he said. No,
I replied, because sooner or later I'd have to look something up in
their godawful manual and it would piss me off that I'd spent $500 for
such an unmitigated piece of dribble. Give me my money back. They
did.

About a year later, one of my writers made a case for RoboHelp. She
did a table of features and functions, and showed me that RoboHelp
actually did more than D-2-H did. Okay, we'll try it again. And what
the hell: I liked it better! They'd fixed the manual (it >really<
sucked at first -- voice changed from 1st person personal to 1st
person formal to 3rd person peremptory to 2nd person turgid, all in
the space of four or five pages, complete with self-aggrandizing
jokes, passive voice, and a lack of flow), the product was as good as
they wanted me to believe, and it worked. I bought it and was happy.
I've since continued to buy it as my number one help tool for my
departments.

>2. If you have used more than one tool, which did you prefer?

RoboHelp does most everything. There are still a few things that
D-2-H does better, but that list is getting shorter.

>3. Is Robohelp really the best, or just the most popular?

I think both.

>4. Is it better to use a tool, or just code the help without one?

I've done it both ways, and I prefer using a tool. You can write a
lot of stuff by hand but this speeds up the mechanistic portions.
Once you've done it once or twice, there's no thrill left in typing
stuff that the computer can do for you.

Yours Truly,

John Hedtke
Manager of Technical Communications
Applied Voice Technology

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