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Wow, where to begin?
First, I would set up meetings with the management; find out what are their expectations. Online more important, or printed doc? Context-sensitive help, and if so just at the window level, or all the way down to field-level? How much "marketing" do they want in the help, or can that stuff be dumped off to another group? Are there already styles and restrictions in place that you will need to follow?
Second, I would set up meetings with the software developers; find out what their preferred method will be, if there is to be context-sensitive help. Will the help be provided on your web site, will it be provided instead on a CD for users to copy to their local machines or to their own servers? How soon can they provide you with a working application, so that you can begin plotting how to present the info?
Notice I haven't said anything about RH yet? Well, as you're putting together a plan on how to structure your help and how some or all of it will be produced in print, you can open up the RH sample project, make a copy and rename it, then experiment with every feature you can find. By the time you actually are ready to work on real content, you'll have enough RH knowledge to at least be dangerous. Plus, you can still come back here when you're stuck on more tightly focused issues.
Sorry, there's no magic bullet! What I've said above is perhaps how 95% of the users on this forum learned to use the product (in my case 13 years ago).
I'm new too and I know all the expectations and I'm in the same boat as Danny. It sure would be nice to have encountered a step-by-step amongst the copious and miscellaneous help files and things either within the program or on Adobe.com.
The problem with having the sample project is that, well, it does almost nothing for me. There's a text block and a photo and such. Great! That doesn't tell me anything.
There are problems with trial-and-error learning. Primarily I don't know how to do things "properly" so I don't generate a corrupt project and it's a breeding ground for horrible (and inefficient) habits. It's altogether frustrating--as if using RH wasn't already frustrating and complicated enough. Each application has a "way" of doing things, a set of behavioral expectations or quirks and mindset that's demanded of its users if they want to be proficient. Trial-and-error doesn't impart that mindset--it only pits your own expectations against the application's and pokes you in the eye every time the two don't agree.
It's better than nothing--which is the best that can be said about it. :(
Sure sounds like some training is needed. You talk about THE sample project but there are two.
What I know about RoboHelp HTML is self taught and what I have picked up on these forums, so it is possible to learn it that way. It takes patience and acceptance that if it goes wrong, it might just be you rather than the application. When that happens you go to the forum with a specific problem and people will help, especially on this forum.
I'm sorry but if the atttitude is "it's better than nothing..." I don't see you ever getting on with RH. Try the other tools and you will probably find them more difficult without training. It's no criticism of you that you are not picking up RH intuitively, we all have the same problem with different programs. But if the tool was as bad as you say, how come it is market leader?
quote:I'm not saying it isn't--it's just the least efficent and most onerous way to do it.
Originally posted by: Peter GraingeRoboHelp HTML is self taught and what I have picked up on these forums, so it is possible to learn it that way.
quote:That old saw? There are any number of reasons why any product could be inferior to another product yet be the market leader.
Originally posted by: Peter GraingeBut if the tool was as bad as you say, how come it is market leader?
I'll be impressed with RH's interface when it does things like Save As. Until then, I anticipate a ponderous slog through the help files.
Speaking of Save As, that raises an issue/question that I'll ask properly in its own topic...
I was discussing this with another person at our company and actually find it somewhat humorous. A software product that helps to create help files and documentation, lacks just that.
I don't doubt that RoboHelp is a great application. However, the question remains why it lacks the documentation necessary to help a person, starting with RoboHelp to get a head start. All other applications, create by Adobe, have this type of documentation. Adobe being the size of company they are, has the resources to create such help files and I find it very hard to believe that others wouldn't find this useful.
Pointing individuals to a sample file and hoping that trial and error will get them by, isn't a recipe for success. If I were to do that to our users, I would be getting a flood of calls, not to mention a large amount of returns for our software.
That's just my two cents. But if anyone has worked in the software industry and had to deal with support, they'll know that giving a sample application isn't going to cut it.
It's a conspiracy, I tell you, to get us to sign up for the for-pay Adobe technical support. ;)
I'm sure it feels that way. "I feel your pain" I got RH X5 three years ago and all I had to go on were the PDF documents posted on this page, because my company didn't want to spend the money on training:
Unfortunately, Adobe hasn't added anything for RH 7 yet, but that sure would be nice.
Does anyone from Adobe know anything about when they're going to post some RH 7 documentation?
I remember slogging through the help files in the beginning and actually making my own procedures and storing them in a folder called "Answers", along with the answers I got from Adobe Support at the time. We paid for technical support, which, when they had the "Platinum" option and you didn't have to purchase it for EVERY license you owned, wasn't a bad deal. This was before a lot of the senior RH people left Macromedia.
When I came across a really useful help topic in the RH X5 help system, I would make sure I printed it out, since I never knew how or if I would ever stumble upon it again.
There is documentation going through the process at the moment. Sorry I cannot give any dates, that's for Adobe.
I for one had not and at first blush/skim through this seems like just the thing I need! Thanks very much for the heads up!