Re: WebHelp generated by RoboHelp 2000 (particulary on Unix)

Subject: Re: WebHelp generated by RoboHelp 2000 (particulary on Unix)
From: "Chuck" <writer -at- best -dot- com>
To: techwr-l
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1999 16:35:03 -0700

Inbar, Paul <paul -dot- inbar -at- intel -dot- com> wrote in message news:26489 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-
> Has anyone had any experience/luck using RoboHelp 2000 to generate truely
> cross-platform/cross-browser WebHelp help? I know that WebHelp generated
> with previous versions of RoboHelp didn't really live up to expectations.
> am particularly interesting to know how it performs on UNIX.

While I can't say for UNIX, I've been experimenting with RoboHelp HTML
Edition 2000 for cross-platform, cross-browser Help. Here are a few of the
issues that have surfaced so far:

Creating WebHelp adds a ton of JavaScripting to the HTML files, making files
with just a line or 2 of content swell to 7 or 8KB. Strangely, you can see
this JavaScripting if you open the file in a text editor, or if you view the
file in Navgator and then choose View Source (or View Frame Source), but it
diappears in Internet Explorer when the source is viewed. I sent email to
Blue Sky last week asking why the JavaScripting wasn't referenced, rather
than embedded. The response I got was a brief explanation of what the
JavaScripting did (which I had already deduced), not why the scripts
themselves were repeated in each and every file.

RoboHELP HTML Edition 2000 does not produce clean HTML. It adds extraneous
tags, such as <P></P> pairs in list items. It does this both for HTML
generated within the tool and (worse) with HTML imported from elsewhere. I
generated some nice clean HTML in Dreamweaver, including several lists
(including a numbered list with a sub-paragraph set off by a break <BR>
tag), and teh HTML was mangled when it was imported--including the removal
of the <BR> tag that had been inserted (it was replaced with a <P></P>

I have chosen to create strictly the Java version to try and get better
cross-platform functionality and leave the DHTML alone for now. On occasion,
Navigator (4.6 and 4.7) doesn't shuit down properly when it has been viewing
a WebHelp system. The Navigator window disappears (this is on a Win98
system), but I can't start a new Navigator session. I look at the running
programs (Ctrl-Alt-Del) and see that Navigator is still running, but not
responding. I end the program through that window, and Navigator starts fine
again. This behavior has been consistent on 2 systems, and does not happen
with Internet Explorer 5.

RoboHELP HTML Edition does not automatically truncate filenames when it
creates WebHelp. So if you're using filenames that mirror topic titles, and
you have some long topic titles, those topics will be unviewable on a
Macintosh, which has a 32-character filename limit.

I have found Blue Sky's technical support to be much less responsive that a
few years back. I used to get quality answers to pretty technical questions
back quickly, often within hours. Now, it can take days. The last answer I
received from a tech suport representative had many facts about HTML plain

Still, after investigating several alternatives (including HyperAct's
eAuthor, ForeFront's ForeHTML, and Quadralay's WebWorks Publisher), I'm
leaning strongly toward RH only because it allows me to keep my source files
in HTML, and the scripting it does to add a Contents button to standalone
pages (like pages called directly from the application in a
context-sensitive situation) are factors in its favor.

Two notes here: I'm told that the RoboHELP HTML Edition is an application
that was not developed at Blue Sky, so they don't seem to have as much
knowledge about or control over the decisions that were made in how that
application handles HTML. And the Word/RoboHELP combination produces worse
HTML than RoboHELP HTML Edition.

Chuck Martin

"[Programmers] cannot successfully be asked to design for
users because...inevitably, they will make judgments based
on the difficult of coding and not on the user's real needs."
- Alan Cooper
"About Face: The Essentials of User Interface Design"

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