Re: desparately seeking java-based help

Subject: Re: desparately seeking java-based help
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 29 May 1997 09:31:07 -0500

At 09:00 AM 5/29/97 -0500, you wrote:

<snipped for brevity>

>David, you made my point for me. I'm not willing to program
>to that degree. I was lamenting the fact that there
>are no *TOOLS* currently available for technical writers to
>develop online help in a browser independent, java
>development environment.
>I need to write documentation. I find it frustrating that to
>display that documentation in a manner easy for users
>to get to, I currently have to jump through large flaming
>hoops (and learn how to program in java!)
<snipped for brevity>

>Let the flames begin . . . ;-)
>Ruth *GLASER*
>rglaser -at- nxtrend -dot- com
Ruth, I don't disagree with you in principle, but I'd add this: I think it's
important for techdoc'ers to learn the ins and outs of the medium first,
then move to a simple tool. I've had occasion to troubleshoot problematic
.HLP files by looking through the RTF. I could do this only because I
learned its structure first, then moved on to a tool. By the same token, I
learned HTML and some JavaScript before moving on to NetHelp.

In addition, it's awfully hard to push the frontiers or make the medium sing
when you're depending on the tool maker to anticipate your needs and hide
the functional aspects from you. I see that with RoboHelp. It's a landslide
favorite with authors, but I can do tricks in native Word that RoboHelp
either can't do or doesn't do easily. Same with HTML, JavaScript, and other
"programmer" things. Worse, quite often the nifty new tricks a tool maker
comes up with don't work very well and it's hard to know why or how to
correct them unless you know what's in the basement.

I think, in the best of all possible worlds, you could author (write?)
materials totally without regard to the mechanism underneath. But I think
it's unwise to do it. You can easily get jammed and not know what to do
about it, and developers aren't always a lot of help with "tech writer stuff."

Tim Altom
Vice President, Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice) 317.899.5987 (fax)
FrameMaker support ForeHelp support
FrameMaker-to-HTML Conversions
HTML Help Consulting and Production

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