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Authoring Tool Recommendations?

3 replies [Last post]
brian10
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Joined: 2006-09-18

Hi Everyone -

We recently completed a swing application in which we created our JavaHelp helpset by authoring an XML document and using docbook's javahelp.xsl for transformation. As a developer, I loved the ease with which this allowed us to generate the helpset.

For version 2, however, our helpset will grow substantially and authoring via an XML document may not be realistic. Therefore we are about to begin evaluating tools that offer a more robust means of authoring the help document. RoboHelp currently tops the list because it is a familiar name (although no one on our team has used it).

A few questions:

1. Can you recommend any other tools that should make our evaluation list?

2. In your opinion, do these tools make help file authoring much easier? Or do they come with their own set of headaches (learning curve, gotchas, configurations, file management, etc.) that might outweigh the benefits?

3. Do most (especially RoboHelp) integrate nicely with JavaHelp? Some posts mention checklists before building the JavaHelp helpset. In your opinion, are these checklists straight forward?

4. Any lessons learned for a team that is about to start out?

Thanks in advance for your comments and insight.

Regards,
Brian

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mwebster
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Joined: 2006-09-19

This product does a decent job:

http://www.solutionsoft.com/hlpbrz.htm

I switched to it from another product that produced Java Help documents from Word documents because Help Breeze generates the required files for doing keyword searches while the other did not.

This product produces Word documents if needed, usually with a minimum amount of cleanup required because of image sizes.

It is good that this product works well, because their customer support is non-existent. I called about one problem and they claimed they could not help me because they had no experience with Java! I emailed about another problem, which I finally figured out how to fix myself, and never got a response, even after multiple emails.

Still, the license was not expensive and everyone here seems pleased with the resulting help files and other types of documents it produces.

johnpm
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Joined: 2005-06-15

JHelpDev works well for me, http://jhelpdev.sourceforge.net/

cobrien
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Joined: 2004-06-09

I went around with this and finally implemented a
scanner that went through html and pulled out the title
and heading tags out of plain vanilla HTML. It's run
from ant so all the developers need to do is create
help/index.html (and gifs and other html pages if they want)
and it goes into the help for that module. Using
javax.swing.text.html.parser.* it was pretty easy.

There is an ant task that runs the parser, which creates
the jhm and xml files, and the search data, which all
gets linked into the module jar files.

There's one line in the module startup to add their help
to the overall help map and it's done.