Re: Web Server & Documents

Subject: Re: Web Server & Documents
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 3 Apr 1997 13:40:50 -0800

David B. Demyan wrote:
>Techwhirlers;
>
>Kate's question involved the best methods to create or convert
>documents from scratch to web inter/intranets.
>
>Kate, I now have two favorite methods:
>
> 1. Create the documents in Word, then convert them using a
> serious conversion program like HTML Transit from Info
> Access (http://www.infoaccess.com).
>
> 2. Create the documents in Word Help files using RoboHelp,
> then convert to HTML using RH's converter.

I agree with David. We've had excellent results with HTML Transit.
Although we also have the capability of converting from RoboHelp
to HTML, we haven't used this approach as yet.

David also said about the Help to HTML approach:
>The resulting
>files are more "Help-like" in that the information is chunked and
>linked similar to Windows help because it must go through the Help
>compiler before conversion to HTML.

And while I agree with the sentiment, this is the primary reason
that we haven't used the approach. When you convert WinHelp to
HTML, each WinHelp topic becomes a separate HTML file. While I'm
confident of the effectiveness of this approach in a compiled
help file where there is no lag time between pages, I have
reservations about using this approach for browser-based docs--
for two reasons:

First, if you're delivering the files to the customer for use
on a local hard disk or company intranet, you don't know their
how there hard drives are formatted. If they've optimized their
drives for large files, a couple of hundred HTML pages could
gobble disk space like the monster that ate Chicago. You can
make a lot of enemies this way.

Second, if you're delivering the files to your web site for
online access, you have that horrendous lag time between
the request for a new page and its actual appearance. This
time delay can be a significant disruption in the users
thought process.

Making HTML pages a little longer than help pages seems like
the appropriate compromise. The users have faster access to
information because download happens less frequently and
they can start reading the top of a page while the rest of
it is being transmitted.

So, for our online solutions, we start with Word, go thru
HTML Transit for browser-based docs (putting each major
section or chapter into a separate HTML page), and go
thru RoboHelp for WinHelp (putting each section heading
thru level 3 into a separate WinHelp topic).



Susan W. Gallagher Manager, Technical Publications
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com Expersoft Corporation, San Diego CA
http://www.expersoft.com

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