Re: Status of HTML-based Help

Subject: Re: Status of HTML-based Help
From: Alec Sonenthal <helpu -at- INETPORT -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 22 Feb 1999 11:13:31 -0600


You are not alone in your thoughts about HTML Help. It indeed has had a rocky
start, and only now is starting to gain serious momentum in the help authoring

Currently, Microsoft's HTML Help is in version 1.2. It behaves better, and we
are starting to see actual implementations throughout the development community.
More importantly, since it is the primary help engine for all upcoming versions
of Office, Windows, and NT, you will see continued growth and support in the
coming two years.

Authoring tools such as RoboHELP, Doc-To-Help, ForeHelp, HDK, and others are
also gaining maturity in this regard. Their support and conversions are getting
cleaner, and more functional as well.

RoboHELP HTML Edition is one of the first WYSIWIG editors that directly supports
HTML Help development.

Is HTML Help perfect? Of course not. It requires the components of Internet
Explorer to run, causing numerous delivery headaches for most developers. It is
still a little rough around the edges, and doing creative things with it is a
little more code and programming intensive that developers experienced with

As for JavaHELP, things are happening as well. The 1.0 Release candidate has
just been announced, and there seems to be great interest in an HTML-based help
solution that is "theoretically" platform independent.

There are lots of places to learn more, quickly.

Winwriters offers a series of conferences throughout the year for online help
developers. They are sponsoring a JavaHelp conference this spring. There are
always lots of first-class sessions at their conferences. You can find them at

Help University and Influent Technology Group sponsor a series of conferences
called Info-Online Conference and Expo. Their conferences focus on many issues
relating to online information, and you will find numerous sessions on HTML Help
and other HTML-based solutions. Their next conference is in Orlando, April
20-22, and you can find out more at

Lots of consultants and trainers are now offering courses in HTML Help. Folks
such as Knowware, Workwrite, Weisner Associates, and some others as well.

For discussion on the ins and outs of HTML Help and other solutions, you can
check out a few of these web sites for information and links to other useful
sites: (check out their webzine, "Help Matters") (great stuff from David Liske)

Bob, check out the winhelp-L list. There is lots of ongoing discussion on the
issues relating to HTML Help and other HTML-based solutions.

Hope this helps,

Alec Sonenthal
Help University, Inc.

Co-sponsor of Info-Online '99 Orlando (April 20-22)

Sponsor of Helpnet and

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