Most of the Technical Authors I have met don’t have a good thing to say about Microsoft SharePoint. In many ways, it represents how not to publish content online. It is seen as encouraging people to move print-optimised documents (Blobs) around, rather than units of content (Chunks), and users are typically left to rely on search to find which document contains the information they are looking for.
For all those issues, SharePoint may still have its place – for managing documentation projects.
Adobe released its latest version of RoboHelp Version 11 (and Technical Communications Suite 5), a while back and asked if we could write a review. There have been a number of excellent reviews, so we’ve been wondering what extra we can say. We’ve decided to address some of the questions we’re often asked by organisations when they’re deciding which Help Authoring Tool to choose.
You’re welcome to join us on our upcoming free webinar, “The changing nature of content”, which will be held at 7pm (GMT+1) on 24th April 2013.
In recent years, technical communicators have focused on improving User Assistance through new technologies and systems, with the assumption that the nature of the content the tone of voice, the writing style should remain the same. In this free webinar, sponsored and hosted by Adobe, we’ll investigate whether the tried and tested writing methods from past decades still make sense today. We’ll look at the reasons why some organisations are “breaking the rules” with the User Assistance they provide.
If you need a Technical Author who knows RoboHelp, then Cherryleaf can help. Our Projects team and many of our contractors have skills and experience in using RoboHelp to create great content for your users.
With the imminent release of DITA support in MadCap Flare, will competing Help authoring tools (HATS) suddenly seem inadequate to the task of technical writing?
Where does this leave Adobe’s RoboHelp?
I suspect it will be difficult technically and commercially (Adobe also owns FrameMaker) for Adobe to add DITA support into RoboHelp.
If writers are collaborating on a project or if a Help system needs be localised into foreign languages, then RoboHelp and other HATS may well lose out to Flare.
However, if a sole author just needs to write a straightforward Help File, then many may not feel the need to change from the tool they use today.
So what would you do if you were Adobe?
I wonder if Adobe will choose to compete with MadCap in other ways. RoboHelp could become more of an online training, performance support, tool. Also, Adobe could bundle RoboHelp with FrameMaker at a price that makes Flare seem very expensive.
This, of course, may be all academic if the DITA standard isn’t taken up by more authors.
We took a quick look at Google’s new Chrome browser this morning. MadCap’s Flare Web based Help seems to work fine, but there seems to be a problem with RoboHelp’s Web Help – specifically the Table of Contents.
We dragged some old RoboHelp 5 generated Web Help files into the browser, and we looked at some of the examples listed on Adobe’s Web site (http://www.adobe.com/products/robohelp/customer_examples/). We haven’t had a chance to do any further testing.
Update – The problem is also there with RoboHelp 6 generated Web-based Help.
Zoho has decided to use its own wiki to provide online Help instead of Help created in RoboHelp. They have posted on their blog the reasons why they have done this, together with the benefits resulting from this change.
We’re not anti wikis and we’re not pro RoboHelp, but nearly all the benefits seem to relate to how the Help was produced and not to what was delivered. For example: With a move to a wiki, the users seem to have lost a table of contents that follows where you are in the document. The individual pages are very very long, unlike the short screen size pages normally you get with RoboHelp generated Help. There’s no pop-up Help topics (for things like glossary descriptions).
These problems may be down to bad information design rather than technical limitations, but it seems fair to say that this change has brought disadvantages as well as advantages with it.