8 Replies Latest reply on Apr 30, 2008 10:57 PM by Peter Grainge

    Robohelp Tutorials

      Hi people,

      (forgive me in advance for my frustration)

      I've posted this as a last resort, because I fear looking like an idiot, but for the life of me I cannot find any information on how to actually use Robohelp (HTML) to create a Help project from scratch.

      I've searched the Adobe website, but the 'tutorials' they've posted appear more like glorified marketing exercises, demonstrating to me the latest (or special) features.

      I've searched the Net, but can only find either ancient tutorials for previous versions (none of which are really what I'm looking for anyhow), or ads promoting the application.

      ...and as for the Robohelp Help, well I'm sorry, but it's a sad irony that it doesn't actually 'help' if you're a newbie; it assumes you already know how to use the application, and provides help only to explain the functionality of individual components, but not so much how they're interconnected. Or how to just start!

      Please don't suggest I seek formal training - I can't justify paying for training to help me determine whether we want to purchase this software. At this stage, I'm just trying to determine whether Robohelp will be better than our existing authoring application (AuthorIT), which I hate. I've assumed the answer will be 'yes', but I can't risk buying Robohelp on a bunch of reviews - I need to see if for myself.

      How do I produce a html Help project from scratch?

      Thanks in advance.
        • 1. Re: Robohelp Tutorials
          MergeThis Level 4
          Unless they've radically changed the help (I'm still on RH X502), the starter page contains a link to "View the RoboHelp HTML Tutorial." The TOC for that tutorial provides "Part I - Learning the Basics." In the "About Part I" topic are links to "Open a Project," "Add new topics," Save your project," etc.

          You can call them "glorified marketing exercises," but they appear to be exactly what a newbie would need (importing, defining styles, styles, lists, tables, hyperlinks, etc.). In addition, the RH WYSIWYG UI is remarkably like Word, as compared to other structured authoring tools.

          Good luck,
          • 2. Re: Robohelp Tutorials
            justme_123 Level 1

            Amen! I have had the same problem. I've learned how to use the basic features and created a help document for the previous company I was working for, which worked very well and they were extremely pleased. HOWEVER...there doesn't seem to be any help out there to use the more technical functions such as RoboSource Control and creating databases...etc.
            The people on this site are very nice and helpful, but they seem to be much more advanced than I am. I'm getting exceedingly frustrated.

            • 3. Re: Robohelp Tutorials
              symmetricalMan Level 1
              Thanks for the responses:

              MergeThis: The tutorials you suggested I look over are in another location now. I had found them here: http://help.adobe.com/en_US/RoboHelp/RHTML/7.0/ (I think these are what you're referring to). However they still don't really help me. (The 'glorified marketing exercises' I referred to are videos found in the Adobe Technical Communication Suite Developer's site).

              Consider this analogy for the instructions provided for Robohelp:

              Imagine that you want to learn how to build a car from the ground up. All the car components are laid out in front of you, and you are provided with all the tools necessary to assemble a car. You even have a qualified mechanic with you, who can teach you about how each components works.

              ...and you're an experienced parts manufacturer - you've made most of the car components before, in one fashion or another - you've even assembled other types of cars before. But not this car. And you don't need to know how each component works. You just need to know how to fit them all together, to make this car

              Now build it. By yourself. Without any instructions from the mechanic (he can only describe each component, but not how they're interconnected).

              This is my dilemma.
              It seems I'm also in the same boat as justme_123 , in that I need to know this advanced functionality too.

              Thanks for your suggestion in any case. I appreciate the feedback.
              • 4. Robohelp Tutorials
                Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)
                If you are looking at the tutorials I think you are, they were produced by a couple of guys who are authors and who not work directly for Adobe.

                I think you could take your analogy and say that what you have bought with RoboHelp is the equivalent of buying the tools to assemble the car and the tool manufacturers don't teach you how to assemble a Mercedes-Benz or a Ford.

                If you have built a car before, then the equivalent of the help would normally explain the differences when you come to assemble one of those cars. I think in this case the difficulty is that you have used AuthorIt. I am not knocking that product in any way but I believe it is way different to anything else. A bit like "I have built a train before but now I want to build a car".

                Have you tried opening one of the supplied sample projects? Given that you have previous experience, I suspect examination of those would help you. Otherwise play around and then ask here. Most posts get resolved.

                • 5. Re: Robohelp Tutorials
                  I'm having the same problem as symmetricalMan. I am brand new to RoboHelp and can't find any real helpful info on getting set up and started. The help section and tutorials give lots of bullet points and point out features but don't really describe how to get up and running with the program.

                  Specifically, I am taking on an existing online help project which hasn't been updated in I don't know how long. I believe it was created in an earlier version of RoboHelp but the person who created/managed it is long gone.

                  I'm not sure if it would be easier to start a new project and import what is there or can I import the existing files as a project?

                  Also, I will most likely need to use RoboSourceControl. I think it was previously used on the existing system. Is there a way to find out if that is set up on the server? How do I find it and connect to it from RoboHelp?

                  Any help on getting started would be greatly appreciated. Also, can anyone recommend a good book on RoboHelp for beginners?


                  • 6. Re: Robohelp Tutorials
                    MergeThis Level 4

                    As to source control (any product), you must coordinate with your IT people, to work out installing, licenses, privileges, etc. They also will [should] provide support.

                    Because the newer RH will likely have some different project files, and since you'll be generating help for an updated product version, you'll want to copy the source files to your local machine and add the entire project to a different location on the server that houses the source control server software (after you've installed the source control client on your machine, of course).

                    Then, play with the RH tutorial project (there used to be two) and test different features. As you get stumped with specific issues, check back here for some help. Sorry, there's no hand-holding with this product; it's pretty much jump in and get wet. The forum can bail you out if you get really underwater.

                    Good luck,
                    • 7. Robohelp Tutorials
                      symmetricalMan Level 1
                      I found a decent article on setting up RoboSourch Control here.

                      Also, the actual RoboSource Control supplied help is pretty good. The article above shows you how to set it up and connect to it, after which RoboHelp will automatically prompt you to 'check-out' files when you next open a given project.

                      For basic RoboHelp 'how do I get going' tutorials, I can't find any. The best of what Adobe seem to offer is here, but don't get too excited. It's not that the information they provide isn't valuable, but it assumes a lot.

                      I've basically committed to reading the entire RoboHelp help, hoping that I'll be able to connect all the dots. I hope I'm not wasting my time. One thing I'd really like to know, which I can't seem to find an answer for is this:

                      I write manuals for a clinical software development company. Most of our applications are very different, and I've assumed that I would start a new RoboHelp project for each of our software applications. However, some of the applications are very closely connected, so much so that some information (topics) are identical.

                      Where I have instances where there is identical information in two or more projects is there a way for me to create a single topic shared between projects? I can't see that's it's possible to do this. Sure, I can create a snippet and share it between topics within a single project, but it doesn't appear that I can share content between projects.

                      Unless I'm wrong, it appears that what I really need to do is create a single project (for all our Help manuals) and then just create different topic folders for each manual I produce within the single project. This doesn't seem very neat.
                      • 8. Re: Robohelp Tutorials
                        Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)

                        You have two options.

                        1] Apply conditional tags to topics and use a build expression to exclude topics when you build your help. That way you can create different outputs. If you right click the single source layout folder in Project Manager you will find you can create different outputs of the same type, that is more than one CHM or webhelp output, whichever you use. Take a look at the help on those terms and try it with a dummy project, not your real one. Come back with specific issues.

                        2] Use merged help where you have a number of projects but you just deliver the ones each customer needs. So common topics in one project and products in whatever number of projects you need to get the right mix. If your output is webhelp, then there is an article explaining how to set that up on my site.