7 Replies Latest reply on Sep 29, 2014 2:47 PM by EuroMatt

    RoboHelp project management strategy

    EuroMatt

      Morning

       

      I have some general questions, for which I doubt there are any "correct" answers, but I'm sure people will have useful to say all the same. First, some background information.

       

      I have used RoboHelp before (version 8) to manage a handful of small, disparate projects, but I have not used the software for a couple of years (which is probably the last time I used these forums, but under a different ID).

       

      In my current role I manage around 400 hundred Word documents, from which I generate user guides as PDFs, spread across three or four software releases. There is not a lot of cross over between these guides, but there are a number of core pieces of functionality, which sometimes bleed into the other areas. I also manage some very basic online help pages, most of which are duplicates of what is in the Word docs. As it stands I have no single-sourcing and often changes in one version of a guide also need to be made to the other versions and the online help.

       

      I am looking to streamline this system, by moving away from Word docs and using RoboHelp 10 instead. While my company has not decided precisely how they want to distribute documentation for future products, I am pretty confident I will need to continue to generate online help (for which customers will only get updates once a quarter) and stand alone PDFs.

       

      Based on the quantity and content of the guides I have, I think each version of the software will need around 10,000 topics (and well over a 1,000,000 words), with maybe 5,000 image files. From this I will need to output selected text and images for the online help (which will be context sensitive) and around 100 PDFs. For now I will be managing this on my own, but I may need to work collaboratively with another tech author in the near future.

       

      So that's the background, here are my questions:

       

      1. Is it practical to put all of that into a single project?
      2. Will future collaborative working require the documentation to be broken down into separate projects?
      3. How easy is it to manage context sensitive help across multiple projects
      4. We use Serena Dimensions for version control. Does RoboHelp 10 integrate with Dimensions effectively or will I need to also use RoboSource?
      5. Our PDFs are heavily formatted and include the following:
        - a cover page
        - standard declaration and revision history page
        - contents page
        - mirrored headers/footers which include the document title, chapter heading, page number and copyright statement.
        - auto-numbered paragraphs, which swap to letters for the appendices.
        - a readers' comments section at the back
        - a rear cover.
        Is it possible to include all that in PDFs generated from RoboHelp content, in the same way you might from Word?
      6. Am I assuming I will need to create a separate SSLfor each PDF I need to generate, each with its own TOC. Is that right?
      7. Any general tips on managing different versions of the same documentation, several of which will be live at the same time?

       

       

      Thanks in advance

       

      DocBot (formerly Euromatt)

        • 1. Re: RoboHelp project management strategy
          Jeff_Coatsworth Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          The fact that you want PDFs and online help lead in one direction - author in FrameMaker and generate PDFs from there; create online help via RH all using the Technical Communication Suite. This is why my company uses it. The quality of PDF creation out of FM is vastly superior to that of RH's - you have to go from RH to Word to PDF in that situation. FM excels in doing PDFs; it fall short when creating HTML - for that RH shines. Either import or link your FM content into RH and create a variety of flavours of online help.

          • 2. Re: RoboHelp project management strategy
            Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional

            @Jeff I would be more inclined to agree if DocBot already had the files in Fm. Not all Word output is bad and most of what I have seen is perfectly usable. It is going to come down to content so given s/he has them in Word I think I would try using those files first to see how well the Rh to Word/PDF goes. Then if DocBot is not getting the required result Fm could be considered.

             

            1. Is it practical to put all of that into a single project?
              You could but then if you want one PDF per Word document you will need to create separate print layouts and you will have many.
            2. Will future collaborative working require the documentation to be broken down into separate projects?
              One author per project or use Source Control are your options.
            3. How easy is it to manage context sensitive help across multiple projects
              I wouldn't like to answer that. It's really down to your developers how easy they find it.
            4. We use Serena Dimensions for version control. Does RoboHelp 10 integrate with Dimensions effectively or will I need to also use RoboSource?
              Ask in the Source Control forum or a wider forum. I haven't seen Serena mentioned.
            5. Our PDFs are heavily formatted and include the following:
              - a cover page
              - standard declaration and revision history page
              - contents page
              - mirrored headers/footers which include the document title, chapter heading, page number and copyright statement.
              - auto-numbered paragraphs, which swap to letters for the appendices.
              - a readers' comments section at the back
              - a rear cover.
              Is it possible to include all that in PDFs generated from RoboHelp content, in the same way you might from Word?
              No to most. See Printed Documentation on my site. The same would be true of the Fm to Rh workflow if you generate from Rh. However, as Jeff points out, you could generate the PDF from Fm so I'll leave Jeff to comment on what that would support.
            6. Am I assuming I will need to create a separate SSLfor each PDF I need to generate, each with its own TOC. Is that right?
            7. Any general tips on managing different versions of the same documentation, several of which will be live at the same time?
              Rh would see each version as a separate document.

             


            See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

             

             

            @petergrainge

            • 3. Re: RoboHelp project management strategy
              Jeff_Coatsworth Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              @Peter - yes, I would totally agree for the Word to RH route if they didn't have the "heavily formatted" PDF requirement. FM is completely suited for doing all the things that @DocBot is doing - long, complicated, technical, book publishing is where it came from.

              • 4. Re: RoboHelp project management strategy
                Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional

                @Jeff

                 

                Except they already have that in Word and would have to start again in Fm, unless you have something else in mind?

                 


                See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

                 

                 

                @petergrainge

                • 5. Re: RoboHelp project management strategy
                  Jeff_Coatsworth Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  I think I was going that way because they said that they were looking to ditch Word and author in RH - the PDF requirements make RH to PDF very awkward. If they authored in Word, linked to RH for online help and created PDFs out of Word, then FM doesn't make sense. But if they did that linking route, then the single-sourcing issue they complain about remains (really, it's more of a content reuse issue, not necessarily single-sourcing).

                  • 6. Re: RoboHelp project management strategy
                    Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional

                    Gotya! I'd rather missed that if DocBot is going to reauthor s/he might as

                    well do it in FrameMaker,  subject only to the learning curve.

                    • 7. Re: RoboHelp project management strategy
                      EuroMatt Level 1

                      I have left the organisation for whom I was doing this research. As of posting this reply they had still not decided what applications they wanted to use for future documentation. Thanks for everyone's help though.