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Author Topic: Output to CHM - trial initial impressions  (Read 4872 times)
amadeus
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Posts: 2


« on: October 25, 2010, 05:18:06 AM »

Hi there,

I just downloaded the eval version of XMetal - I'm looking to generate .CHM files for a project I'm working on and looking at the multitude of products on offer.
I installed the software, and then tried out output to .CHM.  I got an error message (that I didn't note down but it implied that I didn't have HTML workshop installed - entirely accurate) but when I tried the same option again to see what the message was, the output to CHM was no longer available to me - presumably because XMetal realised that I didn't have the capabilities.

So,
1) Could HTML Workshop not be installed with the product?
2) If not, could the installation routine at least tell me that some functionality was limited
3) I'm not sure that removing the option entirely is the best option - maybe grey it out, or even just leave it so the same message is shown should the user go into the option again.

Not a very good start from my perspective, but I'm sure it's a good product so I'll give it another go, just thought I'd give a little constructive feedback.

Rgds
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gcrews
Member

Posts: 265


« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2010, 09:23:19 AM »

Check the “Optional additional software” section in the readme:
http://www.xmetal.com/_trials/install-readme.html#sysreqauthor

You can download the help workshop from:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=00535334-c8a6-452f-9aa0-d597d16580cc&displaylang=en
« Last Edit: October 25, 2010, 10:38:02 AM by gcrews » Logged
amadeus
Member

Posts: 2


« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2010, 11:02:49 AM »


Thanks for taking the time to reply.
As I was writing my post I thought it must be mentioned somewhere in the docs (thanks for pointing out exactly where), but my point is that I should be able to download and run - if it needs something additional, it should offer the chance of installing it there and then, or at least warn me in big letters that I've not got it installed - not many people (myself included) read much of the docs before installation! :-)

Like I said, just some feedback to make the user experience a little better - I've always found that people new to a product are the best people to see deficiencies - once you've become accustomed to the product, you can't see problems with it because you know how it's expected to be done (well, that's certainly true of software I write).

Rgds
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Derek Read
Program Manager (XMetaL)
Administrator
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Posts: 2621



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« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2010, 11:37:12 AM »

There is no logic in the product to hide output types from the Generate Output dialog if they fail for any reason. Are you sure it is not available anymore?

Our installation process might be improved, however, we can't install HTML Help Workshop because Microsoft does not let anyone do that. You (as the actual user) must obtain it from them (at least last time we checked their licensing terms). Many people that create CHM files (perhaps most of our clients?) will already have it installed on their machine. However, if you are not familiar with the tool then I could see how there might be a break down here. I'll raise this with our team. We could try to detect if it is installed when you install our product and then bug people about it at that time but I don't think that is going to be any more helpful than what we currently do.

If you generate output without HTML Help Workshop installed the error message you should see is the following:

"Output could not be generated because the application 'HTML Help Workshop' was not found."

So far that seems to be good for most people. (nobody has been asking about it through our support lines anyway, and there are definitely a lot of people generating CHM because we've gotten lots of other questions over the last few years). You might have missed the error the first time, but if you try to generate CHM again you should continue to see the same error message. The main thing you should be aware of is that if you purchase the product and need help you do get support and they (including me) can help you with this kind of stuff.

If you search for "HTML Help Workshop" on Google it is currently the first hit. At the moment Microsoft has information on it here:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=00535334-c8a6-452f-9aa0-d597d16580cc

Our documentation is written assuming someone would know where to get HTML Help Workshop or that they'll try to find it using a search engine maybe. Because Microsoft constantly reorganizes things and breaks links on their website on a regular basis (at least we do not trust them as that has occurred frequently in the past) the best we could do is to ask you to search for it at www.microsoft.com

I'll ask the documentation team to add some more detail to that topic in our help if they can.
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dcramer
Member

Posts: 120


« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2010, 07:40:35 AM »

I know there are many HATs (Help Authoring Tools) that can produce chm files even if you haven't pre-installed HTML Help workshop. I assume they install hhc.exe etc. under the covers. Perhaps they have OEM agreements with Microsoft? Anyway, RoboHELP, FAR, etc. don't require that you install HTML Help Workshop separately.
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David Cramer
Technical Writer
Motive, an Alcatel-Lucent Company
Derek Read
Program Manager (XMetaL)
Administrator
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Posts: 2621



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« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2010, 06:01:47 PM »

dcramer: you might be right. I still can't locate any information on Microsoft's website at the moment, but it appears that Symantec might be distributing it with something (http://sfdoccentral.symantec.com/ccstor/5.2/win_unix/html/cc_attribs/ch01s15.htm).

Might be worth looking into again.

I don't know about Adobe's product enough to comment on whether some (or all) versions of Robohelp use hhc.exe or not but I suspect that at least some do given that some of their documentation refers to "Errors caused by the HTML Help Workshop program" (http://help.adobe.com/en_US/RoboHelp/8.0/RoboHTML/WS5b3ccc516d4fbf351e63e3d11aff59c2a0-7f5d.html). I can't seem to find any information in their docs that suggests you need to install it separately, so maybe they do bundle it.
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dcramer
Member

Posts: 120


« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2010, 06:15:51 PM »

I can say that the last time I used Robohelp (several years ago) you didn't have to install HTML Help workshop separately. Perhaps they have explicit permission from Microsoft though.

David
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David Cramer
Technical Writer
Motive, an Alcatel-Lucent Company
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