7 Replies Latest reply on Jan 30, 2009 8:51 PM by RoboWizard

    overview/comparison of different formats?

    Tech Writer KC Level 1
      Can anyone provide an overview and comparison of the different help formats available in RH? (e.g. html, flash, webhelp, etc.)

      We currently use Microsoft HTML, but I would be interested in learning more about the other formats, especially if any of them prove to be appreciably better or have more advantages for our Help system.
        • 1. Re: overview/comparison of different formats?
          Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional
          Because of security changes, the different formats are now effectively about where the help is located.

          On the users hard disk = CHMs - Microsoft HTML Help.

          On a server = WebHelp or FlashHelp. The latter will run on any platform and is not browser dependent. The skin can only be edited by a FlashDeveloper and some admins will not permit the use of Flash.

          Don't change the format without the agreement of your developers.

          • 2. Re: overview/comparison of different formats?
            Hi Tech Writer KC,

            You didn't say what version of RH you're using, but I assume you've read the little overview about each output type in the RH help file? In RH7, the relevant information is located Single-source layouts > Output types.

            Sorry to point out the obvious!
            • 3. Re: overview/comparison of different formats?
              Tech Writer KC Level 1
              I run RH7.

              The RH help file, perhaps ironically, doesn't work for me. The search function and forward/backward controls operate a bit clunky, but more importantly, results longer than the display window can't be scrolled to unless I highlight the text with my mouse and mouse down with it.

              As such, I've given up on the help file for RH.

              Obviously I wouldn't change formats on my own initiative. I'm just wanting to get some ideas as we occasionally float ideas for things like having a web-based help available from our website, seeing what search features might exist in other formats (I think my coworkers and customers would love a Google-type search experience), etc.

              Thanks for the info!
              • 4. Re: overview/comparison of different formats?
                Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional
                Try using the offline help, it does work better.

                • 5. Re: overview/comparison of different formats?
                  Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                  LOL, I was going to say the same thing as Peter.

                  In case you don't know how, click Tools > Options > General tab to enable offline help. It is typically a better help experience.

                  Cheers... Rick
                  • 6. Re: overview/comparison of different formats?
                    As a relatively new RoboHelp 7 user who is publishing to RH Server, I must admit I know nothing about what is "Offline" Help. Why is it considered "a better help experience" and "work better"? How do users access it and how is it distributed to them if they are not accessing the help from a server? I'm guessing I would lose the reporting functionality that I get with the server and which is very valuable to me?

                    Thank you.
                    • 7. Re: overview/comparison of different formats?
                      RoboWizard Level 4
                      Hi there Graphics Engine

                      From what I see of your post it would seem you feel I was stating that ANY offline help would be a better experience.

                      I'm hoping you aren't assuming that I meant that as a generic blanket statement. It was intended to convey that the help system experience for RoboHelp HTML was better if you used it offline. The offline version of help for RoboHelp does provide a better experience than the on-line version does for many reasons I won't list here.

                      Overall, help systems began their life long before the internet came along. There was on-line help with DOS if you began using computers back when I did. Even though I'm referring to it as "on-line help", it was installed on the local hard drive. It was known as on-line help because it was ready when you needed it at the press of a key. You didn't need to fetch a printed manual to discover what you were looking for.

                      When Windows came along, the on-line help system provided with Windows came in the form of a WinHelp file. (.HLP format)

                      Then along came the internet and the world of HTML. Microsoft shifted to a different form of on-line help called Compiled Help Modules. (.CHM files) RoboHelp produces this type of help today as one of its output types. If you have an application that the user installs to their local hard drive, CHM is the format you will likely choose. This type of help is normally installed at the time the application is. For example, PhotoShop or even RoboHelp. Many systems are configured such that if the web based help isn't available, the locally installed help is presented. Back when eHelp corporation owned RoboHelp, they coined the term "Airplane Help" to describe this. Because if you were on an airplane, the application wouldn't be able to open the web based help.

                      If your application runs from a server or in a web browser, you likely want WebHelp or FlashHelp. Or in your case, WebHelp or FlashHelp Pro.

                      I know you seem fond of the reporting functionality, but note that you could also obtain reporting from your web admins or your web hosting interface without having the additional overhead and associated headaches of the RoboHelp Server (formerly known as RoboEngine).

                      Hopefully this helps shed some light for you.

                      Cheers... Rick