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I think your problem can be split into two parts. Learning RoboHelp and designing the portal you want.
A three day course should be plenty to learn more than the basics. Indeed I would be upset if I could not get someone producing something basic in a day. Three days and takeaway notes should be plenty. How did the others on your course feel afterwards? If you all felt the same, someone should have followed that up with the company.
I haven't used the other tools except Flare but I would expect the learning curve to be the same.
The issues re designing the portal will be the same whatever you use.
Thank you so much for your reply.
The 2 day course on Flash I took locally here in San Jose was ok, but the instructor has some technical issues and in my opinion didn't present the material well to the level of the students attending.
The experience I have had with the training partners in San Jose has been less than average. My Dreamweaver class was the same way, the guy didn't even go by the book so the examples he used were not even relevant to what the curriculum was.
I really want to be proficient with the macromedia products but I am finding the instructor led courses less than acceptable. The online self paced courses might be different, although I didn't find any for RoboHelp.
I need to make a recommendation to my team and want to feel confident the direction we go in is something I can support.
Either a search engine 3rd party provider on a web site or use Robo Help which I understand can do searches within it's project files.
Your guidance on this topic is much appreciated, I think I just don't know the full capacity of what robohelp can do and I have a short timeline expectation from my management.
Can someone watching this thread with local knowledge help?
Hello MaryLea -
Can you provide more info about your intended use of a HAT? It sounds like you might import some type of file or files and then use the HAT to conduct a search. Several HATs have that ability as does hardware/software such as Google.
I am not sure what a HAT is but here is a more detailed look at the project.
We have products that are posted on our public web site
We have policies and procedures that are posted and updated on our intranet site
The vision is to make available a portal or search box on the intranet that our front line tellers (we are a bank) can use if they have a question about a product or policy. Information at their fingertips.
RoboHelp was suggested by management, but open to other solutions that might be simplier.
Thanks in advance for your assistance!
A HAT is a Help Authoring Tool.
With information on a website and information on an intranet, I cannot see how any HAT is going to do what you want. RoboHelp's search is limited to what is in the project and the website and intranet will not be. I believe the search tool I use on my site could be configured to search the website and the intranet from a page within a RoboHelp project but there are two issues with that. I think it would require more experience than you currently have and it would only give a search tool. Imagine being the teller asking the customer to wait while you do a Google type search in the hope of finding the right page of information. Especially as one of the sources will be information that the customer may well have accessed already and analysed giving them a head start over the teller, that will impress!
You need something much slicker than that and I think that only a custom application would do. Please see my site and you will see that I spent 30 years in banking. The whole project sounds like it needs some more thinking through as to what it is the end user (the teller) needs. In short an analyst is required to look at this first and someone who can then suggest the right tool, which as I said will, I think, be a custom application.
I agree with everything you have written, another bank used RoboHelp as their "Dr. Know" and it seemed to be successful. Nott sure if it was partnered with another custom piece.
The scope of this project is large and I think maintaining documents inside of a HAT project is a big accountability issue as well.
I look up your site right now, thank you for your assistance!
Hello MaryLea -
If your company hosts your intra/internet (you have your own servers), I recommend the Google Mini (hardware). Price was recently cut in half - now around US$2500 (a steal).
Thanks for this additional information and what you included in your offline email.
You mentioned that another bank had used RoboHelp. Perhaps they were not trying to use a website and an intranet within the RoboHelp project, it may have duplicated information or worked in some other way. What did occur to me as a solution is that you put your intranet within RoboHelp and then have links to pages on the website. I wonder if that would work for you?
I suspect that the pages on your site are constructed in a way that would not work in RH. That means importing them would not work for that reason quite apart from the subsequent overhead of maintaining two versions of the same information. Your RH project could house the intranet information and would have additional pages with links to the website information. Alternatively, as your site has a login, perhaps the web designers could set things up to display additional links when it recognises a staff login. Those links would then go the policy stuff from relevant places.
Does that help your thinking on how to tackle this?
On the learning side, no I am not aware of any online courses. A course should get you started but the very nature of what you are trying to do makes me think that you need a RH consultant on site for a few days to get you started at least.
Peter has some excellent thoughts on search alternatives. Flash and Dreamweaver are more general website development tools and are used by a broader audience. RoboHelp is much more specialized. For this reason, there are far fewer RoboHelp instructors and they tend to be more experienced not only in teaching but in actually using the product in the real world.
You might also find value in having an "onsite" visit to assess your goals and recommend a course of action specific to your intended use...as opposed to a general basic/intermediate course, I'm not sure. Many banks, mortgage an financial institutions use RoboHelp for their policies and procedures. However, you would certainly want to validate that RoboHelp would suit your needs. Both Roundpeg and Ciber are training partners in the San Francisco area who could help you with these possibilites.
You don't say what form your content, or source material, is in. If mostly everything you have can be converted to PDF (Word, Excel, etc.), you could simply put all your PDFs in the same folder and create a Catalog to, as the dialog states, "create a full-text index of your PDF documents or document collections." (Select the Advanced > Catalog menu option.)
This allows you to simply swap PDF files in the folder, whether edited by you or some other department specialist, and give your users the benefit of the superior Acrobat search engine. And you don't have to learn any new HAT; with the raise you get for having your people buy Acrobat Professional and reduce training expenses, you can go out and BUY a hat to wear!
Ummm, I may be alone in my thinking here, but I doubt that's the case. I have never been impressed with using Acrobat for any on-line medium. If I were forced to use only Acrobat reader, I'd scream bloody murder. It seems very clumsy to me when compared to a compiled .CHM file.
I was only attempting to answer MaryLea's original help request: "My company wants to have a search portal for products and policies and procedures..." I just felt that her company's requirements would not warrant the extra pain and expense it would take to bring her, and possibly others, up to speed on an admittedly tough app to master (given her disappointing results to date).
As much as I love RH Html (and look hopefully to its reconstituted future), it is NOT the answer for all documentation needs. No app truly is, I believe. Too many variables affect the delivery of information, not the least of which is the ability of help providers to create, maintain, and deliver that information on a consistent basis.