Is DotNet Help worth it?

This forum is for all Flare issues related to the DotNet Help target, and the Dot Net Viewer

Is DotNet Help worth it?

Postby phriend_o_phlair on Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:19 am

I have a few questions, and I would love some expert advice on any or all of these points. We develop a giant enterprise DotNet application, and I'm trying to determine if this output will fit the bill for us. I'm going to move us from .chms to something better (this year) and you can help me if you'd like :) :

  • Is the programming required to integrate DotNet Help worth it?
  • Is the added benefit of having the dynamic help windows that great?
  • Has anyone been able to discern quantifiable improvements in user assistance by using DotNet help? I'd love to know.
  • Can you glean any analytics from DotNet help?
  • Will anyone provide specific reasons as to why they went with DotNet help over WebHelp?
  • Doesn't packaging DotNet help with an application mean that you have to deal with "laggy" help updates like you might expect with the antiquated MS HTML Help (.chm) format? OR... Has anyone on these forums successfully served up .WebHelp files from a corporate server to a user's system with a DotNet help integration so as to provide timely updates?
This is the first post in two months on this particular forum which is somewhat concerning, especially as we plan a significant reworking of our help systems. I know that one of my questions was somewhat answered previously... but that was in 2006, and I want to make sure I don't get boondoggled with redistributables and/or a situation where we can only make updates at RTM time.

It seems to me that from a functionality standpoint, using WebHelp (regular flavor or HTML5) would provide essentially the same benefits as DotNet help, just without the spiffy help windows. From the standpoint of doling out precious developer time, WebHelp could be maintained, developed, and deployed fairly easily by a technical communicator with a modest amount of HTML/CSS knowledge. (read: me!) Thanks! :flare:
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Re: Is DotNet Help worth it?

Postby Dave Lee on Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:14 am

phriend_o_phlair wrote:Has anyone on these forums successfully served up .WebHelp files from a corporate server to a user's system with a DotNet help integration so as to provide timely updates?


Help in our products link to online WebHelp and HTML5 systems; and if no connection is available, they fall-back on locally installed copies.
The online versions are slightly different, and are more integrated with our other online resources such as knowledgebase articles and video clips.

Our WebHelp/HTML5 help wasn't initially online, and the main reason we moved to having online content was so that our help content was available from searches (Google, etc.)

We don't use DotNet help, as it didn't appear to have any advantages for us over WebHelp (years ago, when the decision was made).
I wouldn't imagine that the development effort would be much different between DotNet help and WebHelp/HTML5. Probably the only difference is that you need to include the DotNet help viewer in the installation process.

I've never had problems with "laggy help updates" - presumably it's only an issue if you need to update the help independently of an application update.
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Re: Is DotNet Help worth it?

Postby phriend_o_phlair on Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:05 pm

Thanks, Dave. Your response is helpful. I'm still hoping that a DotNet Help evangelist will tune in to answer a few of my other questions. Otherwise, I'm going to push for WebHelp. Cheers! 8)
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Re: Is DotNet Help worth it?

Postby ConnieKeefe on Thu Dec 18, 2014 2:46 am

If you mean upload directly to a server from Flare, then look into the Publishing option in Flare. There are a couple of different methods you can use to "publish" the file to the server, depending on how your server is set up and your permissions on that server.

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Last edited by ConnieKeefe on Fri Jan 02, 2015 4:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is DotNet Help worth it?

Postby phriend_o_phlair on Thu Dec 18, 2014 6:14 am

Edit ---> Connie, I re-read a few forum posts and am wondering: did you perhaps mean to reply to the forum topic on uploading an aspx file to the server? :D This guy? http://forums.madcapsoftware.com/viewto ... =7&t=17235

Original post ---> Thanks, Connie! We are moving forward with a WebHelp rollout at this point. I'll be able to update as frequently as necessary, and it seems more flexible for what we're trying to achieve. The community of WebHelp-ers seems a lot more robust, anyhow, which makes a big difference! :)
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