[This one's a winner -- Trevor Smith, Editor, OS/2 e-Zine!]
Hyperwise v2.0- by Jon F. Kaminsky

Version 2.0 of IBM's Hyperwise is an OS/2 native authoring environment which allows the creation of on-line information. Specifically, Hyperwise can create content for IBM's Information Presentation Facility (IPF: e.g., .INF books or .HLP help files), BookMaster documents, and HTML browsers. Hyperwise can also port information to be viewed under Microsoft Windows 3.1 so if you are creating an application that will be ported to Windows from OS/2 (or vice versa) you only have to write the help file once. And Hyperwise can export to files such as .IPF-tagged source files, .RTF-tagged source files, and BookMaster-tagged source files.

What Comes With Hyperwise

Hyperwise comes complete with everything you need to perform the functions described above. Out of the box, Hyperwise comes with the following: The IPF compiler is built into Hyperwise while other competitors' products of this nature require the separate acquisition of the IPF compiler (either by purchasing a subscription to the IBM Developer's Connection CD-ROM or a compiler which includes the IPFC, such as VisualAge C++ or Borland C++). The IPF for Windows viewer looks just like a slightly cheesier version of the OS/2 VIEW.EXE facility (INF viewer) and operates somewhat similarly with differences attributed to the limitations of that operating system.

The Tutor/2 application assists in the construction of interactive tutorials so that the target audience learns about a software product while they are using it. In addition, fly-over help is available for many of the features offered in Hyperwise.

I have used Hyperwise to create on-line books such as the Yarn-Souper reference (ZIP, 43k) in the June issue of OS/2 e-Zine!, and help files for several of my OS/2 shareware applications. I have also had great success in creating multimedia entertainment books for my two-year old son. For this review, however, I also wanted to experiment with the HTML features of Hyperwise, which, in my opinion, take a backseat to the aforementioned usages.

Operating Hyperwise

Installation is straightforward, and is accomplished by an installation program contained on the program diskettes. The installation program installs the Hyperwise folder (GIF, 2.8k) on the desktop which contains the program object and the on-line guides.

The program is started by clicking on the program object which temporarily displays a splash screen while the environment loads. Hyperwise opens up to a desktop (GIF, 11.7k) populated with several sample .WF objects, the "create a new document" object, the document and panel shredder object, and the "change working directory" object. The .WF objects are workfiles which are contained in the working directory, which by default is X:\HWISE\WORK. I created a workfile during the course of this review and exported it to an .INF file for OS/2 e-Zine! readers to download here (ZIP, 4.6k).

Creating your first document

Original content is created by first opening a new document. At the time of creating your document, you are asked whether you want to create an outline. This is a great function if you have already mapped out what you want to do, as all the panels are created at one time (although you always have the option to add more as desired). If you do not create an outline, your new document opens up with one unnamed panel where you can begin entering content. You'll likely see a couple more windows open up on the Hyperwise desktop (GIF, 26.9k) -- these usually include the Panel list and the Element list. More on those later.

Unnamed panels can be named by double-right clicking anywhere in the panel to bring up a properties dialog where Panel Properties (GIF, 9.2k) can be specified. I named my panel "Hyperwise Review Introduction" and linked from it to all the other panels in this demo .INF.

The size of the panel is also specified in Panel Properties. Panel sizes can range from 35% to 80% and the panel's position can also be specified. For example, a small panel created to appear in the upper right corner of an .INF document might be specified as RightTop40%. In addition, footnote panels can be specified. Footnotes can be linked to and from but do not appear in a book's Table of Contents.

Formatting A Document

The first thing one should be aware of when working in Hyperwise is that content is formatted by selecting an "element" which controls the type of content and the style of the content. I began by adding a few words to my panel explaining what I was up to. Hot keys are available and are conveniently displayed alongside their respective elements. At this point, you are essentially working with a text editor and you can freely enter text as you see fit. Adding a list is as easy as selecting one of the list elements and entering the items you want formatted as a list. Graphics are similarly created.

Other often used formatting elements include ordered and unordered lists, definition lists, character graphics, example, invisible text (author's notes), or figure captions. Hyperwise handles them all. Pre-formatted notation elements are available including: Warning, Caution, Note, or Danger.

Indexes to on-line documents are easily created by highlighting the text you want included in the index and then linking it to the appropriate panel. Upon compilation, the index button will automatically be added to the bottom of the window displaying the .INF or help file.

Text Attributes

Fonts can easily be changed with Hyperwise by highlighting the text to be changed and selecting a new font from the font list. Font attributes such as color, italic, underline bold, etc. are also selectable. The font list (like pretty much all styles in Hyperwise) are displayed in a window in the Hyperwise workspace and by default, there are 12 font styles shown. You can change these by double right-clicking on a font and then scrolling through the available options (which should match what fonts you have installed in OS/2). You can also add additional fonts beyond the initial 12, but only if "advanced mode" is selected (I'm not sure why adding more that 12 fonts to the font list is an advanced option).

Advanced Content

Hyperwise can deal only with .WAV and .MID sound files and .AVI video files. However, these resources do not seem to be compiled within the document as are graphics. Also, after you compile an .INF document, if you move the sound or video file, the .INF cannot find it. Therefore, the target machine must have the appropriate resource in the exact directory as on the machine that the original document was compiled on.

For example, on my machine, sounds are kept in the E:MMOS2\sound bites\ directory. When distributing an .INF with embedded sounds, the end user must have a copy of the sound files in the same directory structure on the same drive or they will not be able to hear the .WAV sounds.

Help File Authoring

Hyperwise does a great job in assisting in the creation of help files. These are the resources that are available under the help menu of virtually every OS/2 and Windows application that assist a user in making a choice, locating information, or recalling the name of a command or function key, for example. Creating help files requires two different development efforts: The first of the above efforts is controlled by the language and compiler used to create an application. Most CUA applications include three to four help topics under the Help menu: Help Index, General Help, Using Help, and sometimes Keys Help. Content for the first two topics can be created with Hyperwise and are specific to the application under development. The Using Help topic is generic to OS/2, and the fourth is optional, and usually specific to the application, although some keys have the same usage across applications (such as CTRL+INS for pasting text).

In Hyperwise, you only need to identify the panel to be called in response to some event. This is done by name and number which are specified in the Panel Properties dialog. For the application, the developer writes simple code for each object (e.g., a dialog or button) that brings up the appropriate help panel when the F1 function key is pressed. Application code is also written for each of the four menu choices to bring up the Help File Index, Table of Contents (usually general help), the OS/2 generic Using Help file, or the Keys Help if so specified.

HTML functions

Hyperwise can format a limited number of HTML tags and will add all the necessary tag information to the exported file automatically. However, where an .INF document may consist of several panels, these panels do not translate to separate pages of html with href="xxxx.htm" type tags substituted for the hypertext links. The blue color is preserved, however so finding the location of the original link is not too difficult. There also is no element for URL's so all of these need to be edited by hand as well. To demonstrate what the sample .INF book I created looks like as HTML, I have included it here. Note that the entire file becomes one page, and some of the elements do not translate well, particularly the tables and character graphics. Large text apparently does not translate well either.

If you had a large .INF document that you wanted to port to HTML, I could see the utility of using Hyperwise to do so, although it would require some hand editing to clean it up, however. But Hyperwise is far too limited to originate HTML content from scratch, however.

Caveats and Suggested Improvements

From over a year of working with Hyperwise v2.0, I would like to see the following improvements:

The HTML features are sorely lacking. It is clear to me that HTML export was added as somewhat of an afterthought rather than an intended end use of this product. However, the proliferation of HTML content for the Worldwide Web creates the need for a product occupying this niche to include a rich set of HTML-specific features. For example, the ability to tag panels as URLs and then link to them from a parent panel should be included. In addition, Hyperwise cannot deal with .GIFs or .JPGs which are used heavily in WWW content.

Linking to multimedia objects seems a little lacking. It is not clear how one distributes a document with links to such objects as they do not seem to be embedded after compiling. In other words, when embedding a graphic in a document, you do not have to distribute the graphic to the end-user as it becomes part of the document after Hyperwise compiles it. However, there does not seem to be a way to this with sound files. In this case, the sound files will not play unless your end-user has the sound file you embedded in the exact directory structure the author has.

While Hyperwise is a Presentation Manager application, it is not a Workplace Shell application. Consequently, drag and drop is not well-implemented and most functions are accomplished by menus, dialogs, and lists inside PM windows. Especially in the case of the windowed lists, the number available can cause a large amount of clutter in the work space. At the very least I'd like to see some different right-mouse button functions added (e.g., properties, font changes, elements, etc.) so you don't have to have particular windows open to make changes. In addition, there is no template added for Hyperwise, so to work on a certain file, you must open Hyperwise first and then open or create a file.

Hyperwise also doesn't do a great job with dealing fonts. It has been reported that fonts in a document compiled on one machine might not look right when viewed on another.

And the IPF export isn't too clean. If you are the kind of person that wants to play with your files by hand as well as use Hyperwise, you might find that it messes them up. This is mostly only important if you intend to do future reading and modifying by hand.

I should add that I have experienced a couple random lockups when trying to save large documents, or when an index item became corrupted for some reason or another. In the first case, the error goes unexplained other than being due to improper memory access of one of the Hyperwise .dll's. The work-around seems to be to save often when you routinely make large amounts of changes in your document.

In the second case, the problem seems to stem from index links that are broken after changes are made to a document which break a certain index link. The work-around in the this case seems to be to destroy the panel in question, and recreate it with a different name and then recreating the appropriate index link to that panel.

I run Hyperwise on a Pentium 133 with Warp blue spine and no FixPaks, so your mileage may vary.

Summary

Hyperwise is a robust on-line information authoring environment that operates natively under OS/2. One should not purchase Hyperwise if their main goal is to author HTML documents, as the ability to format this type of content is severely limited. Hyperwise does a splendid job of producing help files and .INF books, however. If these are your main needs, Hyperwise is a very strong performer.
 * Hyperwise v2.0
by IBM
MSRP: US$295
Jon F. Kaminsky is principal hydrogeologist of Northwest Environmental Geoscience Co. in Tacoma, Washington and when not practicing geology, he indulges in writing shareware OS/2 utilities. He has written articles for scientific journals, and now, an on-line magazine.

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