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I was in a similar situation. I used Frame at all my previous jobs, but wasn't able to use it at this one. But after a lot of testing, I decided it was better to create content in RH7 HTML and output it to WebHelp, Word, and then PDF. This process allows me to focus on the look and feel of the online help, which is our preferred output. (The PDFs get used by only a few customers on special request, so I don't care if they're especially "pretty.")
There was a bit of a learning curve to authoring in RH7, but it's a fun tool once you get the hang of it (way more fun to use on a daily basis than Word). Plus it seems much more stable and more predictable than Word. And, I may be mistaken, but I think that you're less likely to encounter formatting issues going from RH to Word/PDF, than from Word to RH.
I've been using RH for a couple of years (about 1 month on RH7, previously X5) and while it does have some frustrations, e.g. not being able to select table rows and cut paste them around, it is a powerful tool and lets you build a complex help system with good control on the content.
I would say Word is easier to create content, but I think there are others who would prefer to create from scratch in RH. We had a team of authors working in Word and just a couple of us doing the import to RH. As long as they stick to their templates properly it is not too time consuming to import.. There are always a couple of issues, e.g. http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/webforums/forum/messageview.cfm?forumid=65&catid=447&threadid =1369167&enterthread=y :)
Personally, I would recommend either single sourcing from RH or making the case and using Framemaker, then convert to required outputs. Even if one exports from RH to word there's a lot of tidying up afterwards needed.
If you're concerned about single source, consider the alternative to the excellent suggestions above:
1. The source is a Word file.
2. Generate .pdf output from word.
3. Import the Word file to RH 7.
4. Make no changes in RH, except to apply html styles and links or to fix typos. In other words, keep it pretty much like the Word document.
(Oops, if you fix typos in RH, you're out of sync with the source.)
5. Generate WebHelp that looks pretty much like the Word document.
Thank you everyone for your input. I've decided to recreate my document in RH output in PDF and Word when needed. I think in the long term this will serve best for me and I may avoid inline styles and tagging problems.
I have two other related questions to ask about the workflow. The images that I originally pasted in Word were in .jpg format and they rendered very nicely. However, I've inserted the same images in a few samples in RH using insert image and they turn out fuzzy and unclear in webhelp output. Is there a preferred format to import into RH? The second part to the question is to automatically save these images in an 'images' folder in the Project Manager pod. Is there a way to set up RH to save images automatically inside a folder?
RE formats, I prefer Gif, but before you think about what format to save in capture your images at a higher resolution using your capture tool. Add any effects such as cutaway etc, then save as for example, Gif.
RE images location:
I have no experience with RH7.
In the previous version, images appear under the Images folder in project manager with the folder they were imported into displayed in both the Images and HTML files (topics) folder.
However, the images only appear under the images folder in project manager. Once imported all work with images files should be done inside RH to maintain links etc.
Hope that helps