SharePoint for documentation projects

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.

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RoboHelp 11 review (finally)

robohelp logoAdobe 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.

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Webinar: The changing nature of content

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.

The registration details will be posted to the Adobe online events Web page in the next few days.

Author-it 5 self-study training course launched today

We’ve added two self-study training courses in Author-it version 5 today – one for Author-it users and the other for Author-it Administrators and Users.

This year, we’ve also introduced a classroom courses in RoboHelp 7 and FrameMaker 8, and we’ve launched an updated version of our DITA training course.

We’ve another course in development and one at planning stage.

Let us know if there’s any other training courses relating to technical writing that we should consider.

Super MadCap quite fantastic; are other tools atrocious?

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.

Does the Google Chrome browser show Web based Help correctly?

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 ( We haven’t had a chance to do any further testing.

Update – The problem is also there with RoboHelp 6 generated Web-based Help.

We suspect it is a JavaScript with Frames issue. The “Section 508” (non-JavaScript) version displays without any problems.