Re: WinHelp 4.0 is a pain

Subject: Re: WinHelp 4.0 is a pain
From: "Wing, Michael J" <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 1996 16:43:44 -0500

The added flexibility in WinHelp 4.0 is worth climbing the learning
curve.
In defense of WinHelp 4, I'd like to make the following comments:

- WinHelp 4 has dynamic (A-links). Because the links are created at
compile rather than hard coded, much (for me very much) time is saved in
modifying changes to interlinking topics. This capability is a "must
have" for multiple configurations of help. I have some single topics
that link to over 100 other topics. With A-Links, I change one tag.
With 3.1, I would have to change each and every topic (let alone trying
to accommodate multiple configurations of the same help).

- The build tag capabilities are expanded (I know that 3.1 has build
tags, but its limitations are great). Build tags, coupled with A-links,
provide single-source topics and variance in help file configurations.
With this expanded capability, I can tag topics as to the configuration
to which they belong. I then create separate HPJ files to manage my
topic configuration.

- The contents files, index, and find links provided in Winhelp 4.0
allow me to create modular help. I can combine the indici, but separate
the associative links. This is another "must have" capability for
reusable help. Some of the functionality that I document is reused in
other applications. WinHelp 4.0 allows me to reuse the help.

- No more baggage files, separate index compilers, and other clanky 3.1
stuff.

- Context sensitivity. I can use the same include file that I supply to
Development (#Define mytopic 10 -styled entries) as my map file (and I
don't have to use the IDH_ prefix).

- The project file manager, itself, is worth switching from 3.1.

- User-authorable buttons - A great feature. I assign A-links to
them, and thus, have designed a help file system (for object-oriented
programming reference help) that functions like an object browser. That
is, a user-authorable button for an object's properties builds a dynamic
list of applicable properties for that object. The contents of this
list automatically update at the next compile to add and delete those
properties that have changed in the source code. As a result - - no
broken links!

I've only just touched on some of the improvements of Winhelp 4 has made
over 3.1. I haven't even mentioned that 3.1 help files have, well, er,
a very 3.1 appearance (bitmaps for secondary window buttons or non
supplied buttons; table of contents topic rather than an
expandable/collapsible list, and so forth).

If you are designing reusable, variable, and or context-sensitive help,
I don't see how you could miss 3.1 ;^).

Mike Wing

_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/
_/
_/ Michael Wing
_/ Principal Technical Writer
_/ Infrastructure Technical Information Development
_/ Intergraph Corporation
_/ Huntsville, Alabama
_/ (205) 730-7250
_/ mjwing -at- ingr -dot- com
_/

>----------
>From: Matthew Danda[SMTP:dandam -at- 1STNET -dot- NET]
>Sent: Tuesday, August 27, 1996 4:26 PM
>To: Multiple recipients of list TECHWR-L
>Subject: WinHelp 4.0 is a pain

>Is it just me, or do you think that the "new and improved" WinHelp 4.0
>is
>much more difficult to design than WinHelp for Win3.1?

>I mean, now you have to deal with a Contents file, multiple window
>interfaces, additional What's This? Help...sure, the end result may be
>better (of course, that is debatable, too), but development seems to
>require
>a much more technical mind-set, more planning and organization, and
>much
>less creativity.

>For instance, rather than designing your own Contents screen as in
>Windows
>3.1, you now have to use the Microsoft Contents format, and design and
>link
>the Contents using a separate application. Whats the term for this
>concept--is it "FatWare?"

>Sorry, but I just spent all day trying to make sense of .h, .hm, and
>.hh
>files in order to implement the supposedly simple What's This Help for
>our
>system. Read all the Help manuals at least 3 times, tried a thousand
>variations of topic names, recompiled and tested the Help file dozens
>of
>times, recompiled and edited the Visual C++ source code several times,
>and
>still no luck.

>AHHHHHH!!!!

> Matthew Danda
> Technical Writer
> St. Louis, MO
> dandam -at- 1stnet -dot- net

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TECHWR-L List Information
To send a message about technical communication to 2500+ list readers,
E-mail to TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU -dot- Send administrative commands
ALL other questions or problems concerning the list
should go to the listowner, Eric Ray, at ejray -at- ionet -dot- net -dot-



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