WebWorks Publisher limitations; the state of Frame Help

Subject: WebWorks Publisher limitations; the state of Frame Help
From: Mark Dempsey <mxd2 -at- OSI -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 3 Sep 1998 08:57:02 -0700

I've been trying to get an online help system from Webworks publisher's
translation of FrameMaker files with only limited success.

The advantages of Webworks:

1. Much better batch processing of many files than Frame's individual
file conversion to HTML. Style construction and mapping are complex,
with only rudimentary doc's, but are serviceable. You can, for example,
exclude conditional text from your help file (and specify which
conditions).

2. Excellent transformation of Frame to HTML. Since Frame has absolute
tabs, and HTML has relative tabs, you'll still have to tweak the output,
though. (The solution would be to have Webworks compare tabs to rulers
in Frame and make the correct substitution in the HTML output. I'm
forwarding this to Quadralay...)

Disadvantages:

1. The output is *not* a help system as fully featured as HTMLhelp
(Microsoft) or NetHelp (Netscape). It does not contain an index, for
example (unless that's one of the Frame files you converted). NetHelp
is a must for me because it requires Netscape to work (as HTMLhelp
requires Internet explorer) and only Netscape is available across all
UNIX platforms (IE is in beta for Solaris only, as far as I know).

2. The appearance of Webworks help is unnecessarily amateurish, IMHO.
For example, if you have a screen that must scroll, the navigation
buttons are not in a frame by themselves, so they disappear.

3. You cannot use Webworks output for NetHelp (a real help system with a
frame for navigation buttons, and an index) without some extraordinary
tweaking (so far, more than I'm willing to do).

Incidentally, I'd like to hear from anyone who's developed online help
using WebWorks. How do you make it work?

Finally, I've just been to the Seybold convention where the Adobe people
say they're in negotiations with a Virginia development company to
provide a real help tool for converting Frame docs. Is this true? Is
this vaporware?

Anyone know?
--
Regards,

-- mailto:Mark -dot- Dempsey -at- osi -dot- com
--
-- Mark Dempsey
-- Technical Publications
-- Objective Systems Integrators
-- 101 Blue Ravine Rd, Folsom, CA 95630
-- 916.353.2400 x 4777

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