Quadralay WebWorks Publisher 2000

CIDM

February 2000


Quadralay WebWorks Publisher 2000


CIDMIconNewsletter Ann Rockley, Center Associate

Quadralay WebWorks Publisher 2000 is a multiple-media, single-sourcing tool for FrameMaker. WebWorks offers information-development departments a number of well-executed features:

  • Works directly with FrameMaker
  • Outputs to six media formats
  • Supports FrameMaker+SGML and effectively maps SGML elements and structures
  • Automatically maps cross-references to hypertext links
  • Supports conditional text very well
  • Simplifies the single-sourcing publishing process for the average author
  • Provides very powerful mapping mechanisms, including macros, which enable authors to customize output

Publishing in Multiple Media Formats

You can publish documents in six multiple media formats:

  • Portable HTML
  • Dynamic HTML
  • Microsoft HTML Help
  • Microsoft WinHelp
  • WebWorks Help
  • Sun JavaHelp

Portable HTML
Portable HTML produces HTML that is compliant with both Netscape and Internet Explorer. It produces HTML v. 3.2 output. The HTML is clean and well-formed. Although this format does not use Java to produce any of the output, you can add Java if desired. This format uses HTML styles embedded in each HTML page and produces the following features:

  • Table of contents “page”
  • Index “page”
  • Navigation buttons
  • Full control over backgrounds and fonts

Dynamic HTML
The Dynamic HTML (DHTML) format requires at least a level 4.0 browser (in either Netscape or Internet Explorer) and does not rely on the use of Java. This format enhances Portable HTML to produce cross-browser HTML by adding the support of cascading style sheets and image maps.

Microsoft HTML Help
WebWorks produces all the files necessary to create Microsoft HTML. Once you have generated the files, you move them into the Microsoft Help Workshop to compile them into a .chm file. This format allows you customize material in several ways:

  • Break content into appropriate Help topics
  • Customize the Microsoft HTML Help template
  • Add context-sensitive Help links
  • Create pop ups
  • Customize the Contents Tab appearance

HTML Help produces “vanilla” Microsoft Help; however, it is still quite usable. While Microsoft HTML Help does support pop ups, it does not yet support the new secondary windows or DHTML.

Microsoft WinHelp
The Microsoft WinHelp format enables you to produce standard Microsoft WinHelp 4.0 files. WebWorks produces all the files necessary to create the .hlp file. Once you generate the files, you move them into the Microsoft Help Workshop.

This medium produces standard WinHelp files quite easily. However, if you want to change the “look and feel,” you need to make your edits in rich text format (rtf). Editing in rtf can be onerous because the rtf code displays along with the content, making this process much less straightforward than editing in Microsoft Word.

WebWorks Help
WebWorks Help is Quadralay’s own version of cross-platform Help. It produces HTML v. 3.2 and uses Javascript ECMA 262. WebWorks Help creates the following tabs with Javascript: Contents, Index, Find, and Favorites.

This media format’s interface resembles Microsoft HTML Help but it also easily supports cross-platform use. One drawback is that the Contents Tab cannot be collapsed and expanded to hide or display levels of information. Rather, it displays as a long, scrollable list with levels shown as indents. As a workaround, we find it more practical to use Portable HTML and use a Java applet to create the Contents and Index Tabs. We frequently use the Microsoft HHCTRL applet (also cross platform), which you can download from the Microsoft site.

Sun JavaHelp
WebWorks also allows you to create JavaHelp v. 1.1, which supports the following features: Pop ups, See also’s, and Java-based text search.

Support for HTML

HTML support is very good. Portable HTML displays well in either browser and has a number of nice additions such as indented lists. WebWorks enhances this format by allowing bulleted or numbered items to be interleaved with nested, unnumbered text.

WebWorks also provides simple methods to set up your styles. Use the “building block” macros to define how you want your materials to display. You can also use page templates to define how your different types of pages (contents, index, normal, single, no navigation links, etc.) will display.

Authoring with WebWorks 2000

Authoring is accomplished using templates. WebWorks provides default templates that you may modify to create custom templates. When you use a template for the first time, map the FrameMaker styles to the available WebWorks styles. Each media format described above has its own styles to reflect the output.

If you do not like how the styles display, you can change them. Once you modify a template to match your materials and your desired output, any file that uses the same styles automatically converts when you select that template.

This feature means that the average writer does not have to worry about making any template or style changes when moving text from FrameMaker to one of the supported media formats. Additionally, WebWorks allows you to process your files in batches. Authors route their files to a server where they are processed in a batch, which requires no manual intervention.

WebWorks also offers a powerful macro language. The macros enable you to change the format and functionality of your converted materials. They also enable you to create your own styles that perform in a particular way (for example, pop ups in cross-platform HTML, which are generated using Javascript). In previous versions of the software, the use of macros was largely obscured by a dreadful user guide, which failed to document them. However, the current user guide provides considerable detail on the use of macros.

Conclusion

Quadralay WebWorks Publisher 2000 is a powerful multiple-media conversion tool for FrameMaker documents. If you are using FrameMaker and need to convert your files to an electronic format, WebWorks is the only logical way to go. Additionally, WebWorks’ support of automated conversion means that you no longer have to “hand craft” your electronic output. You design it once and convert volumes of information rapidly. This process ensures consistency, accuracy, completeness, and repeatability. Authors spend time on content-where the effort counts-not on repetitive tool and file manipulation. CIDMIconNewsletter