Re: Results of "Tool" survey

Subject: Re: Results of "Tool" survey
From: "Thiessen, Christopher E" <Christopher -dot- E -dot- Thiessen -at- CDEV -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 14 Nov 1996 16:49:47 -0600

Greetings, Deborah!

Earlier you wrote:

>I have to take exception to this statement regarding Forehelp. I had a
major
>deadline within four days of being hired at the company I currently work
>for, and besides extensive new writing and rewriting/reorganizing of
>existing material in the first help file, I had to learn to use Forehelp to
>accomplish these tasks within the same four days. The tool was useful
within
>a couple of hours, and I would not say that I had yet mastered the
>fundamentals, or underpinnings of basic coding. My impression is that
>Forehelp's major strength is its very short learning curve. (No, I don't
get
>any commission for saying these things :^) )

While it's great that any competent person like yourself can now grab a help
authoring tool and immediately develop a help system, there is more to the
design of a system than these tools display. It's like the controversy
between a manual and automatic transmission in a car: spirit vs.
convenience. If you're never going to stretch the envelope or concern
yourself with subtle design issues (which address at a fundamental level the
system under the tool), use the automatic transmission and cruise control.
But I have found it useful to learn and to teach folks about how a WinHelp
system works without the superimposition of a tool, because when they have a
fundamental knowledge they are much more appreciative of the benefits - and
limitations - of tools.

Chris Thiessen
christopher -dot- e -dot- thiessen -at- cdev -dot- com
----------
From: Deborah Meltzer
To: Technical Writers List; for al
Subject: Re: Results of "Tool" survey
Date: Thursday, November 14, 1996 3:27PM

>Although the advoates for RoboHelp are pretty convincing, I was
>surprised by the number of comments that using Winhelp, or no 3rd party
>tool, is a good foundation for the online Help author. The consensus
>seems to be that tools are useful only after you have mastered the
>fundamentals, or underpinnings of the basic coding.

I have to take exception to this statement regarding Forehelp. I had a major
deadline within four days of being hired at the company I currently work
for, and besides extensive new writing and rewriting/reorganizing of
existing material in the first help file, I had to learn to use Forehelp to
accomplish these tasks within the same four days. The tool was useful within
a couple of hours, and I would not say that I had yet mastered the
fundamentals, or underpinnings of basic coding. My impression is that
Forehelp's major strength is its very short learning curve. (No, I don't get
any commission for saying these things :^) )

But I also have the impression that if you want to end up with both print
documentation and online help systems, a tool such as RoboHelp may be a
better way to go. Forehelp can accomplish this as well, but the print
documentation may require more format tweaking using Forehelp than it would
using RoboHelp. Because RoboHelp is designed as a single sourcing tool for
both print and online documentation and Forehelp is designed primarily as a
help authoring tool, I would actually hope that this was the case.

Regards,

Deborah
"If your present is tense, you are probably not living in the present
tense."
=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=
Deborah Meltzer
StarQuest Software, Inc.
email: deborah -at- starquest -dot- com
voice: 510/704-2554
=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=



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