Long: RE: Why not just use Frame? (Was RE: Robohelp vs. Doc-to-He lp)

Subject: Long: RE: Why not just use Frame? (Was RE: Robohelp vs. Doc-to-He lp)
From: Alexia Prendergast <alexiap -at- SEAGATESOFTWARE -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 26 Feb 1998 10:18:09 -0500

Maybe the cost justification is different for everyone, but I'm with Tim
on this one: $295 is cheaper than most of the HATs out there and
certainly saves a bunch of time because you don't have to have two
separate sets of tools (with varying levels of bugginess) and two
separate sets of development processes. Essentially, it *eliminates* the
unnecessary work.

There is a bit of a learning curve (a day or two of messing around with
the filter should do it) to do the conversion from Frame to RTF -- but
you only need to figure it out once. Then it's a breeze. The actual help
compilation is done using HCW -- which is pretty much what you see when
you select the Project button on the RoboHelp toolbar, so that's really
nothing new. You do *not* need to be a programmer. You do not need to
know anything about Frame or WinHelp that you shouldn't already know or
need to learn anyway (my opinion :-).

I've converted online help files from Frame using this tool and you'd
never be able to tell that it wasn't done with a separate HAT -- you can
include macros, keywords, jumps to primary or secondary windows, popups,
etc. I haven't been able to find any WinHelp functionality it doesn't
support. (Kim, you asked me if you can do the "navigator" window that
lets users know where the topic is in the outline -- if you mean a link
view, then no. Right now, I just track topics and modules via the book
file and generated lists. Has worked well because we plan the hypertext
structure before we start writing, so we already have a good picture of
the links. I'm not saying it wouldn't be convenient, but it wouldn't be
enough of a sell for me.)

Tim also said: " It's not pretty Windows software, for sure, but it
works, and Omni's
support has been thorough, friendly, and quick as a scalded fox." He's
right on the money -- I have been so cranky lately with the increasing
amount of buggy software I have to put up with -- it's a pleasure to use
a product that works and it's a pleasure to deal with Omni Systems --
they are fast, thorough, and friendly.

This isn't limited to single sourcing, either -- you can single-source,
use conditional text to create custom stuff for docs and custom stuff
for help from the same files, or you can author help from scratch. In
addition to using it to do WinHelp, you can adjust some filter settings
to produce clean Word files -- I know some folks need to provide source
to internal or external customers and those customers don't always have
Frame. It's a handy little plus for me.

Alexia Prendergast
Tech Pubs Manager
Seagate Software (Durham NC USA)
mailto:alexiap -at- seagatesoftware -dot- com

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bergen, Jane [SMTP:janeb -at- ANSWERSOFT -dot- COM]
> Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 1998 6:06 PM
> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
> Subject: Re: Why not just use Frame? (Was RE: Robohelp vs.
> Doc-to-Help)
> On Wednesday, February 25, 1998 4:13 PM, Alexia Prendergast
> [SMTP:alexiap -at- SEAGATESOFTWARE -dot- COM] wrote:
> > Why don't you just author WinHelp directly in Frame?
> >
> > You can convert Frame directly to WinHelp-compatible RTF using the
> > MIF2RTF tool from Omni Systems (meaning no clean-up in Word -- in
> fact
> > you don't even need Word for this), then create/compile your Help
> > project file in HCW (available for free from Microsoft). You can do
> One reason most people don't use it is the price...$295!!! That's
> pretty
> stiff for such a limited use. And I've never seen an acceptable online
> help file yet that was simply compiled from an rtf doc. You can, of
> course, do some tweaking but that takes a stiff learning curve if
> you've
> never done it before, not to mention lots of time. It's a little like
> building a covered wagon to go across country when an affordable auto
> is
> sitting in your driveway. Some people enjoy the challenge, I suppose.
> If you're like most of us, though, you are going to need Word with a
> help authoring tool (Robo-Help or Doc-to-Help) or a Wordless help
> authoring tool such as Forehelp, etc. As for the difference between RH
> and D2H, it's really a matter of personal preference. They are both
> excellent tools and both offer (unless changed recently) a money-back
> policy if you decide you don't like the program. I used D2H for a
> couple
> of years, then switched to RH (my personal preference) about two years
> ago. And for a little over a year, when I first started, I DID create
> RTF files from TXT files and compiled them to get WinHelp. It's a lot
> of
> unnecessary work.

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