Don't get discouraged - I believe Activ is the best compiler for your money. Admittedly, the learning curve is a bit steeper than some others, but that's only due to the fact that one has more options and functionality to learn.
It's like the difference between having dials and gauges, or only having the cryptic 'idiot lights' on your car dashboard. The more dials and switches, the longer it takes to learn. But you know more, have more control, and are better off for having them.
There are a lot of other products out there, but you have to choose what's important to you. Adobe, for instance, has the cross-platform .pdf format, a $250 Acrobat compiler, and a million-dollar support system. They need it. Have you ever tried to build a table of contents for a .pdf file? Talk about a steep learning curve! And, .pdfs are great to print, hard to navigate and often difficult to read. Their security is good, Russian programmers notwithstanding. And, your Mac users can open and read .pdfs.
Here's where I start blithering on, based on my experience as a help author:
As far as support goes, it is a proverb that users will ask their forums and support groups for answers to problems before they read the documentation. I'm as guilty as anyone for asking questions that could be answered in the help file.
Some beginners just shrug when they are asked if they went through the help and tutorials. The usual justification is that they're in a hurry, under a deadline, don't have the time. What they don't realize is that the other forum members are under just as much pressure to produce as they, and don't have time to research every question.
Further, forum members are reluctant to offer suggestions for solving problems when the nature of the problem is not clear. A simple "I've built these files and compiled the ebook but it doesn't run." is not going to get an adequate answer.
Lastly, this forum is still young: you may have noticed that there are a lot of subscribers, but only a handful of posters actually offering suggestions or solutions. This too, shall pass, as the forum numbers grow, and users become more experienced and confident.
Remember - established companies are starting to charge for their support more and more now, but here, it's still free!
Regarding difficulties running the exe book, the problem is almost always human error. As a friend says, it's usually 'PEBCAK' - 'Problem Exists Between Chair and Keyboard' ... and, the chance always exists for the possibility of file corruption as well.
As far as file size goes, there is an overhead, but I believe you were looking at an .exe compiled without any compression options selected. I assure you that your one-page, no image file will be much smaller upon compression.
So, in short, there are other compilers out there with different (and usually lesser) functionality, and different levels of support. None of the others, I feel, have anything comparable to the flexibility, programability or functionality that is available in Activ.
So, don't despair, and give it another shot before chucking it, eh?
PS - I should have some demos online athttp://www.copperfieldpub.comsoon - along with more scripts and tools that work with Activ compiler and ebooks in general. You might find something helpful or inspiring there!
(Edited by Alaska at 8:42 am on Dec. 4, 2002)