7 Replies Latest reply on Nov 11, 2008 12:23 PM by avi10000

    Need pointers on getting started with RoboHelp 7 HTML

    avi10000 Level 1
      Hi all,

      I would like to hear important pointers on getting started with RoboHelp 7 HTML (RH7H). After a number of false starts and a holiday in the middle, I am now ready to get started, but I don't have time to do a course or even much of a tutorial. I recall a couple of gotchas that the first time around I learned the longer way, namely:

      - You have to develop your RH7H help on a disk drive, e.g., C:, otherwise RH7H can't find linked graphics, as far as I remember.

      - RH7H has no Save Project As operation, so if you want to backup up your project on the file server (always a good idea…) or create a new version for a new day's work or whatever, then all you can do is just copy your whole project directory (zipped or not) into the backup area.

      - First create the topics in the Project Manager, but then you have to create the TOCs in the Layout Designer.

      - The built-in HTML Design mode editor is not rich enough for doing high speed formatting, in the opinion of a lot of people, incl. little me, so if you need/want formatted WYSIWYM you had better to look at an external HTML editor.*

      - If you use a different editor from RH7H's built-in Design mode editor, then you will be limited in the way you can insert RH7H's special features, e.g., snippets. So what do you do if you are using the RH7H HTML editor? And what do you do if you are typing HTML straight into Notepad, as apparently many HTML experts do, so I heard?

      (Btw, how do you do bullets with this forum editor?)


      Any time-saving pointers would be greatly appreciated.


      - avi

      * Actually, I asked about the editor on this forum. Great thanks to the guy who suggested MS Visual Studio Web Developer. I had initially only looked at Vis Express 2005, which is what I have installed at my client, and it was not good enough, but at some point it dawned on me to have a look at MS Visual Express 2008, and I saw it was great; it includes lots of features that MS included in their Expression Web.
        • 1. Re: Important pointers on getting started with RoboHelp 7 HTML
          Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP
          Hi Avi

          I must be a horribly dumb and unintelligent person. Here's why I say that.

          I have never found the RoboHelp WYSIWYG editor to limit me. Sure, for a number of years there was that inserted KADOV code that seemed to drive folks crazy. But it never bothered me. I just accepted it as being part of what RoboHelp allowed me to do and it never seemed to cause me issues.

          So, for some answers to your questions...

          You asked if projects worked better when edited locally. Indeed they still do. Keep your projects on a local C drive and you won't have the issues that would be induced by working off a network resource. And I might add that at a few points in RoboHelp and Captivate classes, I've heard others comment about other applications they have encountered that are somewhat finicky in that regard. So don't think it's an issue that is limited to Adobe products.

          You are correct in that there is no "Save as" option. The manner you described is the way to work. However, keeping in mind what I stated earlier, I would point this out. In almost every other application that supports Save As, how does it behave? I know with Word, if I click Save As and use a different location and file name, I'm automatically disconnecting from what I was working on and am suddenly making edits to the document I saved as in the new location. So this could really shoot you in the foot if you were able to Save As to a network share, no?

          Indeed you create your Tables of Contents in a different pod of the editor. But you are still working within the RoboHelp interface. From what you wrote, it would seem that you somehow want that to be different? I'm lost with what you are looking for here. When you choose to edit a TOC, you are editing a different file containing all the code connecting the TOC nodes to the relevant topics.

          Again, I'm stumped with what you feel is missing with the WYSIWYG editor. You say there are features missing. Please clue us in on how you wish it were different. I've used it just fine for years. To me, there is nothing missing except perhaps better/easier table formatting.

          Sure, anyone can open Notepad and edit HTML directly. But who would really want to work that way? Geez, there are so many nice features that help you out using the editor that is provided. I'd be willing to bet a dollar against a donut (wait, at today's rates I may need to bet a 20 ) that these "Experts" most likely resort to Notepad only to tweak things here and there. I cannot fathom a true Expert choosing the long way around. To me, this would be like saying "Nope, I'm not going to take the jet from New York to England. I have this canoe right here and I'm an expert at paddling". I would hope an expert would recognize the strengths and weaknesses of all the different tools at their disposal and choose wisely.

          Just a few random thoughts from the edge... Rick
          • 2. Re: Important pointers on getting started with RoboHelp 7 HTML
            avi10000 Level 1
            Thanks for the quick response.

            To help you understand where I am coming from, I shoudl probably say tthat I have been using a different help authoring platform, namely FastHelp. It is much simpler, less powerful, and cheaper than RH, but it DOES do some basic things very nicely/simply. It lets you do a Save Project As. So when I am satisfied with a version of my documentation, I can just 'close' it by doing a Save As <some other name> (and back the project up to a server), and continue then authoring a new draft by working under the new name. FastHelp builds the topics and TOC as one package, so you don't have to then separately build the TOC. This is very limiting: so you can't have multiple books using the same topics, so it's one book per project. But it's fast and simple.

            There .. that's where I came from :-) .

            >> Again, I'm stumped with what you feel is missing with the WYSIWYG editor.

            :-) Well, I am sure you are right, and eventually I will come around to your way of thinking as a result of gained expertise, but it will take a while. Maybe I am stuck in an inappropriate mindset and it looks like I have no choice but to learn the longer way ... :-)
            It's just that after working with Word for years, I am used to having all my 'immediate' styles in a side-pane and even having shortcut keys associated with the most important styles. RH is far from that.

            If you think if any more pointers, let me know. I suppose it's difficult to think of these things when you have been around so long. Beginners like me are probably the best people to answer this question.

            Again, thanks.

            - avi

            • 3. Re: Important pointers on getting started with RoboHelp 7 HTML
              Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP
              Hi Avi

              FastHelp does indeed sound rather limiting!

              There are three different formatting keyboard shortcuts that may help you. You are able to easily apply Heading 1 (H1) Heading 2 (H2) and Heading 3 (H3) by using the following keys:

              Ctrl+Alt+1 (Applies Heading 1)
              Ctrl+Alt+2 (Applies Heading 2)
              Ctrl+Alt+3 (Applies Heading 3)

              Cheers... Rick
              • 4. Re: Important pointers on getting started with RoboHelp 7 HTML
                avi10000 Level 1

                Ok, Rick, I will give it another go at RH's built-in HTML editor.
                I do want to learn how to use RH professionally. I often find that "pros" have been using an key app for years, but have never ever taken the time to learn how to use it correctly.

                Actually the first time I tried I was also under the pressure of a new client and a new project, so I didn't have much time to spend on also learning a new app if it wasn't going so smoothly for me. The main thing was the content, so I used Word.

                Re the shortcuts for the heading. Thanks. a bit useful. But the main shortcuts we need for speed formating are like: Body Text, Indents, Bullets, Indented Bullets, Numbered lists and items, Indented Numbered lists and items, 'Continue' styles at all list levels - that stuff. We don't seem to need to format headings so often.


                - avi

                • 5. Re: Important pointers on getting started with RoboHelp 7 HTML
                  avi10000 Level 1
                  I remember now. It's the numbered lists that freaked me out.

                  When I put a "continue" style in between, they would always restart at 1. In tech writing we do lots of numbered lists, with lots of interruptions. I had become rusty at HTML, and didn't have the time to re-learn at that time. Also, all the clicking and entering the Styles dlg box was getting on my nerves. So I went to look for something else.

                  I will start a new thread on the list numbering issue.

                  - avi

                  • 6. Re: Important pointers on getting started with RoboHelp 7 HTML
                    MergeThis Level 4
                    No need to start up yet another topic on list numbering (there must be hundreds already).

                    Don't use any styles; keep it simple. Select all elements as Normal, and click the Numbered List toolbar icon. Where you want unnumbered, select those elements, click the icon again, then click the Indent Left icon. Now go into the TrueCode, and delete the OL closing tag before the unnumbered stuff, and then delete the OL opening tag after the unnumbered stuff.

                    This bothersome nature of list numbering is partly HTML and partly RH. We long-time users have simply gotten used to it; others have not.

                    Good luck,
                    • 7. Re: Important pointers on getting started with RoboHelp 7 HTML
                      avi10000 Level 1
                      Thanks, Leon, for the response.

                      As I said in the other thread, I am also inclined to just take out the <ol> tabs, and if I want "Normal/BodyText" text inside a list then I will have to think about how to remove the indenting. Since the indenting is inherited from the default indenting of the list, there must be a way of removing the indenting.

                      But there is a more complex CSS solution.