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Subject: RE: What do you use for on-line help creation?
From: Ed Treijs <etreijs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2001 14:25:01 -0500
> We write technical documents in Frame and make them available
> in print and
> on-line in PDF. We'd also like to source them into on-line
> help available
> through our Java-based GUIs that front our software system.
> The GUIs run
> on Windows and Unix.
--Here's what someone here has to say:
Well, in my humble opinion, I'd say that they are on the right track using WebWorks to produce HTML. I know that we currently use ForeHelp because it provides some really nice features, but it can be difficult and the results are not as clean as might be hoped (for both Windows and UNIX).
My experience using Frame and WebWorks was very positive. At an unnamed company, we wrote in Frame and used WebWorks to make HTML help. The HTML resided on servers that were either Windows NT or UNIX. Client applications were browser-based applications (from any computer that had a browser). So, while the applications weren't Java, they still required a browser on the machine to view the help. Here, we are making Java applications for both Windows and (possibly) UNIX. The HTML is intended to work on both, although it isn't exactly turning out that way. I think that is due to the tool we are using. I believe that the HTML produced by WebWorks would display quite well on both platforms, and I still believe that it would be better achieved if we were to use WebWorks to do it (and gave up the nicer features of ForeHelp, such as the full text search, the controlled browser window size, and the applet table of contents).
I never looked at how the Webworks HTML appeared in a UNIX browser, but there are certain things that make me think it would be okay. For example, in your WebWorks template, you can specify that graphic links have "./whatever folder/" before the name of the graphic. The "./" is essential for UNIX, but not Windows. ForeHelp does not do this (or, I haven't been able to figure out how to control that) so that HTML with graphics tend to display without the graphics. Style sheets can be used, or defined right in the WebWorks template.
The things I've heard of JavaHelp are that it is slow, and since you can do a lot with HTML, it almost makes JavaHelp unnecessary. For example, in terms of Navigation, you can use the Table of Contents generated by Frame in the HTML produced by WebWorks and you can either use their templates to lay the help out (i.e., indexes, ToCs, et. al.), or you can do your own by modifying them. As well, HTML is a nice way to produce help in that you can look at the source code of the HTML to see exactly what you've told Webworks to do. Then you can make corrections. And, you don't have to be a Java whiz to figure it out.
While Webworks templates (style definitions, page definitions) are complicated to set up, they work like a charm once they are.
That is my 2 cents. I'm not sure it is a recommendation.