Re: SQL-based Help

Subject: Re: SQL-based Help
From: "Steven J. Owens" <puff -at- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 12 Dec 1998 19:38:36 -0800

David Hailey writes:

> I think I'll never have the opportunity to do this, or I would keep it under
> my hat. In all of the discussions of help that I have seen, people
> thoroughly dislike HTML-based help, and in recent discussions have had
> similarly negative comments about Java-based help.
> I work daily in an SQL driven environment, and it works beautifully. I
> could invision a database/forms combination that would make creating these
> docs much simpler than even RoboHelp, and would produce true-cross-platform
> compatability.
> Obviously, there is a small server problem--they are all pretty expensive I
> think. But apart from that. . . ?

No, there are free and/or cheap SQL servers out there being used
to drive many database-backed websites. "MySQL" is the most popular,
I think it's free for non-profit use and $170 for a license; it's
simple and very fast. PostGreSQL is the most full-featured and it's
completely free. I wouldn't be surprised to find that there's a
java-based SQL engine in the works somewhere. Most of these run on
UNIX platforms, but I suspect there are PC ports out there. Of
course, then you have the problem that using a full-fledged database
to drive a help engine is a bit of overkill.

You could certainly implement a help engine using a database and
SQL queries. However, you'd still need a graphical user interface,
which is where Java or HTML would come in again. "Standard" HTML (no
Javascript, or proprietary netscape or windows tags) at its current
level of sophistication is just not quite what the help authors seem
to want. Implementing it in pure java would be a pain and a half.
Presumably Java-help is a java framework for implementing help, but
apparently it's not been well-received.

Steven J. Owens
puff -at- netcom -dot- com

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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