Re: What are the pros and cons of the winhelp tool you use?

Subject: Re: What are the pros and cons of the winhelp tool you use?
From: Mitch Berg <mberg -at- IS -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 5 Mar 1997 10:00:31 -0600

Linda van Draanen wrote:
> We want to choose a winhelp tool.
> We do not have experience with winhelp tools currently on the market.
> What are the pros and cons of the winhelp tool you use?

At the risk of precipitating a holy war (this list seems REALLY
susceptible to that sort of thing), I'll give my observations.

* Allows you to get deep into the "guts" of WinHelp,
allowing you to customize your Help system to a great degree
* Very robust, in my experience. Very difficult to break it.
* Fits my personal user info development philosophy (Develop
online help first, expand on it to do print manuals later).
* If you're very systems-literate (i.e., can develop your own
DLL files), you can extend it fairly easily.
* Excellent for doing context-sensitive help.
* Steep learning curve. It pays to take the time to become
a "PowerUser".
* Not cheap.
* Absolutely wretched print and online documentation.
(Ironic, isn't it).
Mitch's Evaluation:
For my money, the best there is for context sensitive WinHelp.

* Uses a "Database" of topics/keywords/other info.
* Has native "tree view" components. You can use these to
arrange topics into a hierarchic tree, providing context
and convenient navigation
* Just plain flashy
* The last time I worked with it (10 mos. ago) it was quite
buggy. In fact, every HDK dev I've ever worked with
(including me) has had problems with projects (HPJs)
"losing" files - sometimes whole projects.
* I can't stand the UI - it is very intrusive, IMO.
Theoretically, this is to make it more intuitive. It
just bugs me.
* I don't think it imports files as well as RoboHelp.
Mitch's Evaluation:
I like the native treeview for doing Reference (as opposed to
context-sensitive) dox. If you need to put a Book online in
WinHelp, this might be the best bet...
However, the UI drives me nuts.

* Good for beginning or casual help developers - the interface
helps the WinHelp neophyte figure out where he/she is.
* Seems fairly reliable
* The last I worked with it seriously (almost two years ago),
it seemed difficult to extend it with macros or new controls.
This may have changed.
Mitch's Evaluation:
Great for beginners, or for staff for whom WinHelp is a casual
or subsidiary duty.

* It's supposed to do what it does very well. I don't
know, it's been a few years.
* It's built around the philosophy of importing existing Print dox
into help. I disagree with this philosophy (at least as far as
doing context-sensitive system help) - I think online must be
written in a MUCH more skeletal, minimalistic fashion.
Mitch's Evaluation:
How 'bout them Timberwolves?

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