Adobe released the latest version of RoboHelp last week, and we’ve taken it for a quick spin around the block. It’s called RoboHelp (2015 Release), but we’ll call simply call it RoboHelp 2015.
A new User Interface
The first thing you notice with Robohelp 2015 is Adobe has replaced RoboHelp 11’s icon-based menu bar with a task-orientated ribbon bar. RoboHelp 11 may have looked a little dated, but it was intuitive to use. The new ribbon bar is a big improvement, and the good news is that the new User Interface is, in the main, still intuitive to use. One gripe – the output tab is a little more confusing and crowded than the rest. I’m sure some users will be searching for a “Publish” tab or button, rather than “Output” and “Generate”.
You might notice what’s not there – access to Help. There is lots of Help: under the File tab, on many dialog boxes, and under a ? icon in the top right hand corner. We wonder why they didn’t include a Help tab on the ribbon as well?
Improved publishing outputs
Adobe has also improved the publishing outputs that can be generated from RoboHelp 2015. You can generate responsive HTML5 pages that can be more consistent with the “look and feel” of a Web-based application or a mobile app. This is crucial, as tri-pane Help can look a little dated in a Web environment.
The out-of-the box outputs look nice and clean. So could you use RoboHelp to create your whole website as well as your Help files? Possibly, although I’m not sure we’d recommend that.
Improved filtering of content
When Microsoft Compiled HTML Help was announced in the dim and distant past (1997?), it was meant to include a way for users to filter content by selecting different criteria. This was to be the third pane in “tri-pane Help”.
RoboHelp 2015 provides filtering by both the user and the Technical Author. Users can filter and self-select relevant content. For example, they could see just the topics relevant to their role or location. RoboHelp 2015’s dynamic content filter technology also means Technical Authors, in conjunction with their developers, can use context-sensitive Help calls to display content relevant to the user’s configuration.
Improved collaboration features
There are other improvements that should benefit Technical Authors who work collaboratively:
- Adobe has improved the way RoboHelp 2015 displays conditions applied to text.
- You can “share” topics with other writers and keep them synchronised.
- If you are working in a distributed authoring environment, files can be located in a variety of locations (such as on Dropbox and OneDrive).
- Projects open in the same state in which they were closed.
- You can give conditional expressions meaningful, easy-to-remember names.
There are a lot of welcome changes in the latest release of RoboHelp, particularly if you are working in a collaborative environment, or publishing content to mobile, tablet and desktop Web pages.