Re: Single Source HTML <-> Frame

Subject: Re: Single Source HTML <-> Frame
From: Mark Dempsey <mxd2 -at- OSI -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 11 Sep 1998 08:18:29 -0700


I've been attempting to do exactly what you describe. Here are the
results of
my investigations so far:

1. NetHelp (Netscape's Help system) is the only truly cross-platform
help system around today. Unlike HTML Help (Microsoft's variety) it
works on most, if not all, flavors of UNIX as well as PC and Mac. The
trouble is that Netscape is not supporting it, it is virtually
impossible to produce
automaticallyl from Webworks/Frame, and it is a giant kluge for small
help systems. (Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?)

2. Java Help/Oracle Help--These too are promising, but because Java is
not-ready-for-prime-time, at least in the help arena, they too must be
discarded. Webworks does supply templates for these, BTW, but because
of the limitations of Java (e.g. Help won't print on Solaris, bullets do
not display correctly, etc.) they are not suited to producing a help

3. You *can* cobble together something using Webworks that looks
approximately like help, provides a table of contents and index....but
is "approximately help" really what you want to do? The Webworks
templates for this are *lame*, BTW.

4. The solution I'm pursuing now is to use Webworks to produce the HTML
docs from Frame originals, and RoboHelp to use those docs to produce a
help-in-a-browser with their simple java applet. I have not tested this
yet, but try for a demo.

5. I write on both UNIX and PC Frame, and considered many other
solutions (e.g. ForeHelp to produce WinHelp viewable with Bristol
HyperHelp's browser...doesn't work). The Bristol System is worth
special mention because it promises UNIX help, but is an enormous
kluge. What you do with it is make special markers for Frame docs, MIF
those, then compile them to a help system. (Hardly WYSIWYG) The
trouble with Bristol: it finds UNIX Frame screenshots
indigestible and will not include them in the Help system. Hotspots on
graphics are, it goes without saying, impossible.

So Webworks for ease with Frame docs, and RoboHelp for their Java is
where I'm headed. Incidentally, I talked to the Adobe reps at the
Seybold publishing conference in San Francisco last week. They said
they're in talks with a company to develop a new help system...tune in
in about a month...

Hope this helps!

John J. Gardiner wrote:

> I have a client who is interested in creating both a
> HTML help system and a hard copy user guide. This client wants to
> source both sets of documentation as much as possible.
> I am guessing the process should be:
> 1) Using FrameMaker, write/review/edit the hard copy doc
> 2) Using WebWorks Lite, export the doc to HTML
> 3) When making subsequent changes, return to Step 1
> I have also heard that Web Help can do these tasks, though it forces
me to
> use Word (yuck) and does not address the hard copy side of the
> Any suggestions/tips/criticisms are appreciated.
> John J. Gardiner
> Technical Documentation and Design
> Online Help * User Guides * Documentation
> HTML * Graphic Design
> e-mail: info -at- johngardiner -dot- com
From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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--Mark Dempsey
--Technical Publications
--Objective Systems Integrators
--100 Blue Ravine Rd. Folsom, CA 95630
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From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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