WebWorks ePublisher Pro-first impressions

Subject: WebWorks ePublisher Pro-first impressions
From: keith -at- soltys -dot- ca
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 23 Jun 2005 16:08:07 -0600

With the apparent demise of RoboHelp after its recent sale to Macromedia,
then to Adobe, Quadralay's WebWorks Publisher has become a much more
important player in the help tools market. It's always been the favoured
solution for authors who need to single-source their output into print and
online formats, something that RoboHelp couldn't easily do. WebWorks
Publisher is also highly customizable, but the customization often
involved digging into the program's arcane macro language or horrendously
complex JavaScript code. WebWorks users groaned in envy when they saw the
ease with which RoboHelp users could accomplish tasks like adding
breadcrumbs or outputting multiple help formats from the same project.

Now all of that has changed. Quadralay has introduced WebWorks ePublisher
Pro, and it's a completely new program. The only thing it shares with its
predecessors is its functionality and the WebWorks name. The program's
interface has been completely revamped, and the macro language is gone,
replaced by a slick XML/XSLT-based engine.

The workflow in ePublisher Pro is still much the same as it was in WWP.
You start by creating a project, selecting an output format, selecting
your input files, then converting them. You now have many more options for
customization along the way, and all of them are handled through the
programs interface. However, you may find that you don't need to do that
much customizing - the default settings are surprisingly good.

As a test, I used a Word document (the Word version is available now, the
FrameMaker version will ship sometime in July) that I'd used with WebWorks
Publisher 2003. It already included media types (now called conditionals,
a la FrameMaker) that I'd set up for print and online versions.
Incidentally, you can convert RoboHelp projects into ePublisher, but
you're going to have to rebuild your old WebWorks Publisher projects from
scratch. I selected the WebWorks Help 5.0 template and set the heading
styles to split into separate pages and to be included in the TOC. The
generated project was almost usable - I'd have to fiddle with some
character styles and overrides that slipped in, and add the company logo
and contact information, but other than that it looked fine - better than
the original project I'd done in WWP for the most part. Line spacing and
indentation was much more even and consistent for example. There was only
one problem - text in bulleted lists was centred if the list item was on
only one line - I've looked at this and not found a solution, so I've
entered a support request with Quadralay. (In fairness, I should note that
the online help is done in WebWorks Help 5 and is fine, so the problem
could be due to flakiness in my Word file).

ePublisher Pro allows you to generate a preview that fairly accurately
simulates the look of your final online output. You can now override the
Style Designer defaults - if you are unlucky enough to have a document
that is full of direct formatting, you can set up the online formats in
the Document Designer without using styles at all. An ePublisher project
will now let you output to different formats from the same project, so you
don't need to recreate everything when your developers tell you that you
need to switch from HTML Help to JavaHelp.

If you're considering upgrading from WWP to ePublisher Pro, make sure
you're hardware can handle it. Quadralay recommends a 3 GHz system with 1
GB of RAM, and they aren't kidding. I ran my tests on my home system,
which is a 1.7 GHz P4 with 512 MB of RAM, and generating a preview and the
final output was slow - quite a bit slower than in WWP.

Overall, my first impressions are pretty favourable. As a veteran WebWorks
user, I didn't have too much trouble figuring out the new interface, and
the quality of the output impressed me (allowing for the one glitch I
had). There are numerous customization options I've barely touched on, all
available without coding. However, my projects have tended to be fairly
straightforward - real WebWorks power users may have different feelings
about not having the old macro language to play with. But so far, I
haven't seen anything that would keep me from upgrading to the FrameMaker
version when that gets released.

(This is also on my blog, at http://www.soltys.ca/coredump/coredump.html)


Now Shipping -- WebWorks ePublisher Pro for Word! Easily create online
Help. And online anything else. Redesigned interface with a new
project-based workflow. Try it today! http://www.webworks.com/techwr-l

Doc-To-Help 2005 now has RoboHelp Converter and HTML Source: Author
content and configure Help in MS Word or any HTML editor. No
proprietary editor! *August release. http://www.componentone.com/TECHWRL/DocToHelp2005

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as:
archiver -at- techwr-l -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Send administrative questions to lisa -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit
http://www.techwr-l.com/techwhirl/ for more resources and info.

Previous by Author: RE: One big word document or break apart
Next by Author: Re: "Zooming" in on screen shot
Previous by Thread: [OT] A good analysis of mail list flamers...
Next by Thread: website ease of use

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads