Re: WebWorks Publisher vs. RoboHelp (unbiased/rant)

Subject: Re: WebWorks Publisher vs. RoboHelp (unbiased/rant)
From: Mark Dempsey <mxd2 -at- OSI -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998 13:15:32 -0700

Sarah O'Keefe wrote:
> (crossposted to framers and techwr-l)
> I recently received an offlist query about the merits of WebWorks Publisher
> and RoboHelp. I ended up writing a rather detailed comparison, which I
> thought might be useful to others on these lists, since WWP has been a
> major topic of discussion recently.

After some extensive investigation and some experience with Webworks I'd
second most of what Ms. O'Keefe wrote in a previous post. Webworks is
an easier way to batch-process Framemaker docs into HTML. It even
filters the entire book for conditional text as it generates the HTML.

After about a month of experimenting with Webworks, however, I've
abandoned it in favor of exporting Frame docs to HTML (File | Save
as..|HTML). The mapping is simpler to understand, and the HTML is
unalloyed with annoying Webworks artifacts and add-ons.

Incidentally, Webworks wins the prize for "Worst Docs", IMHO.

How does one get cross-platform help from this HTML export? Make an
HTML frameset with three frames: 1 "Contents" and "Index" links in the
upper left corner, 2 The content or index display in the left column,
and 3 the text for the rest of the browser window. Make TOC and IX docs
(omit page #'s in the Reference page, and generate hypertext links).
Have the frameset open with IX or TOX HTML and a splash page, and you're
in business.

Believe me, this is as good as any UNIX help around. Javahelp and
java-based help like Oracle help are not-ready-for-prime-time. For
example, bullets do not display correctly, and you can't print help from
Solaris. These are problems with Java, not the help authoring tools.
Will Sun upgrade the help portion of the java libraries without
addressing all the other problems in current code? I doubt it. We'll
have to await a general update to get the bug fixes, IMHO.

The other UNIX help alternative is Bristol's HyperHelp. The deal-killer
for us here is that we've been using UNIX FrameMaker's screen capture
utility throughout our docs and, although Bristol will import MIF or RTF
files, it will *not* import XWD files (the same screen captures).

Robohelp appears to be an intelligent cross-platform alternative because
it will import HTML files, and provides its own java applet that makes a
TOC and searchable index. See for a demo. It's
impressive. We may use Robohelp to manage our files, in the end. But
for now, the magic frameset is the way...


-- 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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