Re: Software Wish List

Subject: Re: Software Wish List
From: Chuck Martin <cmartin -at- SEEKERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 21 Aug 1997 10:29:17 -0700

At 08:26 AM 8/21/97 -0500, you wrote:
>Our techwhirler team needs to create a software wish list so I decided to
>solicit your opinions. First, some background.
>Our current software:
>Windows 3.1 (We hope to be upgraded to NT by the end of the year.)
>RoboHelp 3
>Folio 3.1 (upgrading to 4.1 as soon as it's available - pending our NT
>Word 6
>All of our products are internal and include:
>Help files
>Databases with search engine
>A few small paper-based manuals (usually not over 50 pages)
>Where we're going:
>Intranet (sometime mid-98, probably, maybe, kinda for sure) using Internet
>Explorer (definitely)
Do you mean Internet Explorer as your default browser? "Explorer" is the
"file manager" in Win95 and NT.

>So here are the questions:
>Are there any advantages in upgrading our RoboHelp before we convert to NT?
The current version of RoboHelp claims to be able to produce WinHelp, HTML
Help, HTML, and print files from one source. I have not been impressed at
all with their export to print. I haven't tried exporting as HTML and HTML

If it weren't a 1.0 product from Microsoft, I'd suggest looking at HTML
Help. Because you are an entirely internal product, you might want to look
at Netscape's NetHelp.

>Would we need to keep our databases in Folio if we convert them to HTML?
My sympathies on your Folio use.

>What is a good, simple graphics program? We don't have a designer on staff
>so we would probably just use lots of clip art that we can tweak.
For simpel raster graphics, it's hard to beat the shareware Paint Shop Pro
( I don't know of any good cheap vector graphics programs,;
I've only dabbled in Adobe Illustrator. The potential problem with clip
art: some producers use proprietary graphic formats, so be careful. Some
people like Corel Draw!; earlier--and perfectly good-versions can still be
purchased rather inexpensively.

>What is a good clip art program?
>What is a good HTML editor? I've written some raw code and used Front Page
>just a bit.
It depends on your definition of "good," how you like to work, and what
your needs are. For basic WYSIWYG editing, my favorite to-date is FrontPad,
available with the Internet Explorer 4.0 beta (but not separately
installable, although you can uninstall IE 4.0 and leave FrontPad). I just
found TextPad, one of the best (and fastest) plain text editors. It's
shareware (and includes a spell checker that ignores words inside HTML
tags). Make sure you know what WYSIWYG HTML editors are doing to your code.
Most change some of the HEAD tags. FrontPad produces more stringent HTML
code, such as adding encoding information at the beginning of files and
adding end tags even if they are not always required (although it's not
wrong to do so either).

>What else would you suggest?
I found a nifty little program called LinkBot that checks all your files
for broken links and other problems. One of my co-workers loves a program
called SiteMan, which can do things such as search and replace across an
entire site.

While you might want to upgrade Word, be careful if you decide to go to
Word 97. It uses VBA rather than WordBASIC for its macro language. In that
case, make doubly sure that add ons (such as RoboHelp) do a good port to
VBA, rather than letting Word do its automatic conversion from WordBASIC to

"You don't look American"
"Everyone looks American, because Americans are from everywhere"
- Doonesbury
Chuck Martin
Technical Writer, Seeker Software, Inc | Personal
cmartin -at- seekersoft -dot- com | writer -at- grin -dot- net |

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