FW: Robohelp vs. Doc-to-Help

Subject: FW: Robohelp vs. Doc-to-Help
From: Dan McGovern <dmg -at- SOFTEXPORT -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 3 Mar 1998 21:55:23 -0000

Here is a summary of some info on the WexTech web site

WexTech's true single-source approach enables you to create and maintain
printed documentation and Online Help from one source document without having
to compromise in either medium. You can format your document and Help
independently from a single-source document, and can indicate material as "Help
Only" or "Document Only". Revisions made to the source document are reflected
in both your printed output and the re-compiled Help. The source document can
simultaneously support creation of Windows 3.0, Windows 3.1, Windows NT and
Windows 95 Help.

Because it runs on top of MS Word you already possess a good chunk of the
skills to create great help files. You do not have to waste a lot of time
learning a brand new tool. You're always working in a familiar environment with
full access to Word's editing, outlining and formatting tools. Doc-To-Help
transforms Word into a friendly and intuitive Help-authoring environment as
well - all Help features are implemented using everyday techniques such as
selecting text, choosing menu items, pushing toolbar buttons and interacting
with point-and-click editors.

* Automatic creation of a detailed Help file
* Automatic mapping of the document information structures to their hypertext
* Automatic creation of topics and subtopics, pop-up definitions and keywords
* Automatic conversion of cross references and page references into hypertext
* Automatic creation of browse sequences
* Automatic generation of Contents (.CNT) files
* Automatic generation of topic links based on shared keywords
* Automatic creation of links and window settings based on topic types
(Conceptual, Procedural, What's This, etc.)
* Help author retains complete control over the structure and all other aspects
of the Help
* Built-in diagnostic system locates and corrects common documentation and Help
author errors
* Easy conversion of existing Help source files to single-source file
The author does not have to look under the hood.

* Customizable document templates provide basis for sophisticated layout and
* Automatic handling of headers, footers, crop marks, sideheads, table
formatting, even and odd pages, gutters, page numbering, and margin notes
* Simplified creation of cross-references, page references and margin notes
* Utilities to speed creation of Table of Contents, Index and Glossary of Terms
* Screen shot formatter facilitates good-looking screen shots

There is extensive multi media support and a plethora of advanced features that
I wont even go into. Check out www.wextech.com - there is loads of info there.


-----Original Message-----
From: Lorraine Kiewiet
Sent: Monday, March 02, 1998 8:54 PM
To: TECHWR-L -at- listserv -dot- okstate -dot- edu
Subject: Re: Robohelp vs. Doc-to-Help

I learned online Help on RoboHELP 3.0 in 1994. It was a snap to learn and
easy to make prototype systems (since my organization didn't know exactly
what they wanted.)
I moved to a different company in 1995, and they had already decided on
Doc-To-Help (v1.6). I felt as though I was learning to build Help
"backwards." This is because of Doc-To-Help's focus on the manual. For
example, when you select text to make a jump, you don't see the actual
Topic Title (context string) to which you are jumping, but rather a
bookmark that D2H uses to find that topic in a document that is part of the
project. You cannot do a lot of "clever" things with Help macros and test
them out quickly because you always have to go through the "make into Help"
process. Also, connecting Help to the program depends on "context or Topic
IDs" in your "map files." Doc-To-Help can change these without telling
you, so I had to keep track of all of my numbers all of the time and check
for "surprise" renumberings when I made Help. The 2.0 version resolved this
problem, but I had a lot of legacy data to maintain.

We stayed with Doc-To-Help through version 2.0. With a beefier machine and
the new release, it wasn't quite so laborious to make a prototype, but the
"backwards" feeling was still there.

We converted to RoboHELP in 1997 and my capacity to test and prototype are
now back to normal. When we need a *quick and dirty* (emphasis equally on
quick and dirty) manual, we use RoboHELP's 'make documentation' feature.
But I guarantee you FrameMaker users that you won't be as satisfied with
any MS-Word 'book' as you were with a FrameMaker book!

Our company made a conscious decision not to publish an expensive manual
that would immediately go out-of-date and to rely exclusively on the Help
system. I was the "lone writer" from 1995-1997, so I needed the 'fastest'
tool possible. If you have a big, well-organized department, you might not
need the on-the-fly benefits that RoboHELP gives you. We now are two
writers, but we are creating and maintaining 16 help systems that appear on
~70,000 desktops, so we need the tool that emphasizes Help first, manual

Lorraine Kiewiet
Manager, Technical Documentation
E-Z Data, Inc.
918 East Green Street
Pasadena, CA 91106
Voice: (626) 585-3505 ext. 6206
Fax: (626) 585-3550
One thing that can be said of the period is that most writers don't reach
it soon enough.
++++++++++++++++Opinions are my own and not those of E-Z

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