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Help authoring mistake

An interesting view as a prospective buyer...

I need a help authoring package. My primary focus right now is creating a technical spec document for the application I've written, but we also need to develop user guides, etc.

One major criteria for me is being able to generate multiple formats (winhelp, html help, straight html, pdf) from a single source.

I'm currently working in Help & Manual, which I really like - nice clean editor, straightforward linking, and you just do a File/Generate and pick your format.

But I felt obliged to check out Robohelp, which also does scripted demos and Flash help (cool, but not essential)

Downloaded it, installed, ran it. Knew from the opening screen they weren't getting my money:
"Choose the help file format you want"

?!?

As far as I can tell, each project has an assigned output format. If there's a way to generate different formats from the same content, I can't find it, and I looked.

So no robohelp. What lunacy.

Philo

Philo
Friday, August 29, 2003

I second that... RoboHelp is nowhere near worth the trouble it brings.

Greg Hurlman
Friday, August 29, 2003

http://www.helpscribble.com/

Best help authoring tool I've ever used. Sure beats writing your document in some crazy RTF format and then running the compiler.

The price is also nice.  For $99 it's a pretty solid and complete package.  I've used a couple of other packages from this same author, and I highly recommend his work.

Clay Dowling
Friday, August 29, 2003

I've used both HelpScribble and Help and Manual, and I have to say that H&M is many, many times better. HelpScribble feels like it was written by a teenager (which, to be fair, it was), with lots of "tricks" that are unnecessary (like when you move your mouse of the statusbar, it says "We love you all!"). Bad UI design, but for sure it's better than writing it in Word. If you search for old newsgroup postings from me, you'll see I often reccommended HS, but warned about the scary UI that you had to get past first.

Help and Manual, however, is amazing. From the get go I felt comfortable in the program. Everything made sense, and all the shortcuts I expected worked. It's well designed and professional looking. It has great support for both help files and manuals, and it doesn't seem tacked on. It's more expensive, but it's worth the price of admission. Since using it, I've never looked back.

Stick with H&M. There's no reason to change.

Tim Sullivan
Friday, August 29, 2003

I also agree that RoboHelp is not what it could be and H&M is the way to go.

What is really amazing to me is look at the kind of money RoboHelp goes for!  Amazing they can get that for it.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Friday, August 29, 2003

Sounds like RoboHelp is the CrystalReports of helpdoc applications.  Or is it CrystalReports that's the RoboHelp of reporting apps? 

Herbert Sitz
Friday, August 29, 2003

i'm using H&M after some other as RoboHelp, ForeHelp...

don't waste your time, use H&M.

Guillermo
Friday, August 29, 2003

After looking at the Help & Manual web site, I have to agree that money would be better spent on that product. It looked like a much better overall solution.  My money was already spent on HelpScribble though (and many years ago), so I'll keep using that.

Clay Dowling
Friday, August 29, 2003

Help and Manual for anyone who has problems with Google:
http://www.ec-software.com/

Philo

Philo
Friday, August 29, 2003

A vote (again) for Doxygen.

It's meant for documenting source code, but can do anything else quite well (Doxygen's own manual is generated with Doxygen).

It can output in HTML, RTF, LaTeX, PS/PDF (Through PDFLaTeX or HTMLDOC), and HtmlHelp; I suspect it doesn't support winhelp. It has very good support for including code sections (including syntax highlighting, code "walkthroughs", cross referencing, and such).

It's also free (both libre and gratis). If you like it and winhelp is essential, you can hack in support yourself.

Ori Berger
Saturday, August 30, 2003

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