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I'm also asking the same question. Can anyone give a brief overview of this answer?
First off, this option only applies to WebHelp output. HTML help (.CHM) output is not 508 compliant. FlashHelp isn't either.
Basically, you flag RoboHelp to generate a plainer version of WebHelp. No fancy Dynamic HTML used for the Table of Contents, Index, Search. No skins. All elements should be presented in a way that screen readers may more easily read to the visually impaired user which element is available or being moused over.
Some folks whine a bit and ask "Why does my help have to look 'ugly' in order to be 508 compliant?". And when you think about it, would the fancy visuals really be needed for a person that is blind or visually impaired?
You *can* sort of have your cake and eat it too. Basically, you generate WebHelp TWICE. You have one output that is 508 compliant and a second output that is skinned. Then you may either point the user to the appropriate output from the beginning, or offer a link within your skinned WebHelp that would open the 508 WebHelp.
Hope this helps a bit... Rick
#1. Your explanation of 508-compliance is much appreciated and easy to understand. My instincts tell me there is a little bit more to the story than only those points you've discussed. Is there a comprehensive list available somewhere that describes all the things that are changed once the option to produce 508-compliant help is selected? I'm asking here, because the online Help for RoboHelp 7 itself is very cursory on most topics, and I haven't found the answer there.
#2. Can you also explain or point me to a comprehensive list of what changes when you select the option for W3C Compliant Topics?
I'm not sure any comprehensive list currently exists for the Section 508. If I had time, I'd put one together. I suppose one would be able to determine the exact changes by generating the same identical project as both Section 508 and Skinned, then noting the differences.
As for the W3C compliancy, here is what I understand about it. Over the years, there have always been those that liked to badmouth RoboHelp for assorted reasons and agendas of their own. One of the complaints that was lodged was that "RoboHelp doesn't produce WebHelp code that is 100% W3C compliant."
First off, for anyone that doesn't know, W3C means the World Wide Web (W3 or WWW) Consortium. This is the governing body over web standards. There are web sites out there that offer compliancy checks. Click here for a site that has links to things like this.
As I understand it, HTML editors may produce HTML code that doesn't strictly adhere to web standards. For example, you may find that a <P> tag declaration works fine and dandy in all browsers. You don't strictly need a closing </P> tag declaration, because the browser understands that the presence of a new opening <P> tag makes the assumption the other was closed. So if this were the case, the page would fail W3C validation, because the tags don't explicitly match. Yet there would be no observable differences.
Sorry, but I'm also unable to point to a comprehensive list of what the option does. And the same information applies. If you are curious, generate with and without the option and observe what the differences are.
Hello Marjorie, Rick, 'n Peter! I've been following the flow and let me say this:
1) thanx for someone finally picking up this topic!!!
2) I agree w/Marjorie that RoboHelp isn't covering 508 or W3C compliance well at all! I ALSO want a SPECIFIC LIST of what is affected when you generate Section 508 Compliant Output AND W3C Compliant Topics. (see original post)
3) I've already been through the Gov site and others. What I want to know is, how does RoboHelp handle compliance? Their online Help is woefully incomplete.
4) If any experts at Adobe have examples they can provide, that would be really beneficial.
In the time-is-of-the-essence job I have, "just try it both ways and see" doesn't work for me. Will something be changed irreversibly or in such a way that it will take serious man-years to repair? I'd like to know up front what could/would be affected before I start flipping switches in my projects.
Thanx for your time!
Sorry if that came off as being flippant with the "Try it both ways and see". It certainly wasn't intended that way. You have to keep in mind here that we aren't actual Adobe employees. We are users same as you. With our own jobs that keep us all too busy. We just enjoy the opportunity to help others as we are able and have time.
Keep in mind that the 508 option is something you choose just before you create your output files. This means that your source files aren't changed in the slightest manner. Instead, as RoboHelp is creating the output (by carefully reading each file into memory, making changes, then copying the modified source file to a different folder to create the output) it is modifying the files so that they should work for a section 508 target.
So the answer to your apparent anxiety with testing this is that you should have no fear. All you are doing is changing the way RoboHelp creates the output. Nothing is irreversibly changed.
Hopefully this helps... Rick
You say "In the time-is-of-the-essence job I have, "just try it both ways and see" doesn't work for me." Unfortunately those of us who support the forum are also in "time is of the essence jobs". Is there one that isn't? As a result, we simply do not have the time to look at this area. We already spend more time than is good for us supporting the forum and maintaining web sites to help. Like Rick, I just do not have the time to research this area, particularly as I would be starting from scratch as this is not an area relevant to my work.
In point two, are you saying the output is not 508 compliant? If you are, then clearly you have researched that much and if you post how, I will be happy to relay that to Adobe. That said, it is best that you also submit a bug report as they DO all get read.
I agree the online help could do with some more detail and I will bring that to Adobe's attention. Again though, you should submit a bug report on that too.
I will see if I can obtain any more information on this area from Adobe but I make no promises.
As to irreversibly changing your project, that I can confirm is a No. When you generate an output of any sort, no changes are made to your source files. What happens is that the wizard notes your settings and generates the required output. So if you select 508 Compliant it will give you one output, if you don't, then you will get a different output. Your source files do not change at all.
If anyone wants to write a topic on this area, I will be more than happy to publish it on my site, subject to my right to edit it!
Thanx, Rick and Peter, for letting me know that nothing would be affected in my projects for turning on 508 or W3C compliance when I generate. I don’t like knowing, though, I have to search through pages to see what changed, if anything. I see a lot of “comparison” in my future. :-( And my 1-4 still stand.
1) thanx! 2) still want a list 3) online Help is inadequate 4) examples could help eliminate the “surprise” element when using a new feature so I know what to look for
PS: no ruffled feathers here. Hope none for YOU! Trying to keep the post short ‘n sweet, so maybe my writing is a little terse. No time to read a tome on anyone’s problems. We’ve ALL got’em! Just the facts, mam. ;-)
1] Our pleasure
2] You want it, you... :-)
See what Father Christmas brings.
Thank you Jinx1 for posting this message. While I acknowledge the position of senior members in the availability of their time and that they are doing a great job getting to posting, it may be difficult for them to understand that the demand for answers to deficiencies in compliance can be as intimidating as undergoing a U.S. Congressional hearing depending upon how sensible the folks are conducting the compliance checks. My perspective is that there is value in having a centralized posting of this information. Just consider the amount of research time and money each government employee or contractor spends in finding these very same answers for themselves.
That said for your immediate future, it may help for you to change your perspective from the source file differences to the output differences. Take a look at how testing for compliance will be done by your governing agency. We just completed a W3C Level 1,2,3 compliance check of RoboHelp 6 webhelp having both the settings you mentioned. There was a third-party tool used to verify Accessibility. There are freeware versions of tools available for accessibilty testing. It will give you the specific differences in the htm files and identify the rules broken.
With our RH6 results, even with 508 compliance and W3C checked, there were still elements flagged like the use of frames, no titles for those frames, and the lack of a NOFRAMES alternative. Also there was an applet used without any titling or an alternative means to get it. (I'm not sure what this applet does.) The same frame related elements are flagged in a comparison with a NON-508 compliant default-skin version. The main difference between the two seems to be the use of non-titled images (mainly the books and page graphics that make up the TOC), also the navigation buttons at the top do not have alt or longdesc tags.
With either output, it may be less stressful to find out if compliance really is YOUR problem to deal with. Was there a product selection process and who was involved? Can they help? There may be creative alternatives that the governing agency may come up with or exceptions made on a case-by-case basis.
just FYI - on the RoboHelp Help issue. I agree, actually. I would have been fired long ago if I thought this quality of design and content was adequate for my applications. But having said that, I did have an AHA moment today. If you go to the Tools menu and select Options, one of the options is Offline Help. Select it and then go fire up the Help - it's more user friendly, with a more confined search pool. May not be any better in the long run, but I found what I needed to know in there quickly with the search feature. Just my two cents.
Perhaps, this issue could be resolved if Adobe (to whom we pay a license fee) provided a list?
Agreed. I submitted a request to obtain a comparison of the differences for the default output (non-508 and W3C), 508 and W3C webhelp outputs for versions 6 and 7. I will let the forum know if there is a response.