21 Replies Latest reply on Oct 8, 2008 12:56 PM by johnmccallum

    External HTML editor for RH

    avi10000 Level 1
      Hi all,

      I would be interested in hearing of any external HTML editors that RH users like using with RH instead of its internal editor.

      Somebody please suggest a free (or almost free) HTML editor that features lots of features, eg, hiliting, split Design/HTML windows, clean XHTML code and checker.

      Wasn't there once some browser called Mozila? Or was it called Netscape?

      Tia

      - avi
        • 1. Re: External HTML editor for RH
          RoboColum(n) Level 5
          To be honest that's a bit like going into a Ferrari garage and asking if a Mesarati is a better car? You may be better directing your query to the HATT list. Better still look at the HAT Matrix.
          • 2. Re: External HTML editor for RH
            avi10000 Level 1
            I would look at it as searching for a *support tool* for RH, not a complete alternative to RH.
            But I will take your suggestion.

            - avi
            • 3. Re: External HTML editor for RH
              Level 2
              avi,

              In my opinion, the editor is the heart of RoboHelp. While there are other HTML editors (and some fairly good ones that are cheap) I haven't found any that allow me to edit with the TOC visible, so that I see what my end user will see. This, to me, is where RoboHelp's value comes in. For cheap HTML editors, I have used SpiderWriter and Coffee Cup, which do OK, but when I want to write 'clean' and simple HTML, I just use Notepad.

              Yes, there was a browser called Mozilla. It is an open source browser now known as Mozilla Firefox. It is nearly identical to Netscape - at least it produces similar looking output. I think they both adhere a lot more strictly to the W3C standards than IE.

              John

              • 4. Re: External HTML editor for RH
                Moonlion2 Level 1
                Unfortunately the internal editor doesn't work for me (as the screenshots on my Flickr account show: http://flickr.com/photos/76009827@N00/ ) so I have to use Notepad to make any direct HTML changes.
                • 5. Re: External HTML editor for RH
                  Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)
                  Moonlion 2

                  I know exactly what that problem is. Your choice of font for the editor and / or the fact that you are running it at other than 100%.

                  Try Courier and Arial. If they don't work, post back and I will look on my home PC where I had the same issue and have more information.

                  • 6. Re: External HTML editor for RH
                    Moonlion2 Level 1
                    Ah, that fixed it.

                    Of course, how it changed away from 100% remains a mystery (I had to search for how to change it so I absolutely didn't do it on purpose) but it's nice to get away from Notepad.
                    • 7. Re: External HTML editor for RH
                      avi10000 Level 1
                      picking up an old thread here...

                      I finally got around to actually start looking for an html editor, I took a look at Coffee Cup, as suggested. It seems to do everything apart from a very important feature, and that's have a styles side-pane (a la Word/Expression_Web/others) so that I can easily apply styling to my documentation. (Or maybe I missed it...)

                      So obviously they didn't design Coffee Cup with Technical Writers in mind. Shame. I will have to keep looking, I wonder what SpiderWriter is like.
                      • 8. Re: External HTML editor for RH
                        avi10000 Level 1
                        picking up an old thread here...

                        I finally got around to actually start looking for an html editor, I took a look at Coffee Cup, as suggested. It seems to do everything apart from a very important feature, and that's have a styles side-pane (a la Word/Expression_Web/others) so that I can easily apply styling to my documentation. (Or maybe I missed it...)

                        So obviously they didn't design Coffee Cup with Technical Writers in mind. Shame. I will have to keep looking, I wonder what SpiderWriter is like.
                        • 9. Re: External HTML editor for RH
                          Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)
                          Avim

                          http://www.microsoft.com/express/vwd/ is worth a look.

                          Of course, as with any other editor you are going to lose the RH features such as creating links quickly, apply conditional build tags, using variable, using snippets and so on.

                          You could use Notepad, the editor of choice for men (with apologies to Roger Nilsson).

                          • 10. Re: External HTML editor for RH
                            avi10000 Level 1


                            Thanks, Peter, for giving me the idea about Visual Web Developer.

                            I checked it out, and it seems to be missing an easy-use side-pane containing all the styles. So it was not designed for TWs. (like Coffee Shop editor, which is great, but it had the same problem.) Need something like Expression Web or DreamWeaver, but without the big price tag.

                            But thanks, for giving me the idea about Visual Web Developer, coz it made me check it out before I went to the boss to say I needed an editor. He could have said that they already possess MS Visual Web Developer, and I would have looked a fool if I had not already checked it out, coz obviously that was the first thing to check (if I had known about it...).

                            >> You could use Notepad, the editor of choice for men

                            ha ha ha :-)
                            Yes, when I was doing, my Comp. Sci. degree, we used to hear the same type of joke about the programming language, Pascal, we used, like:

                            "real men use C/Assembly"

                            and

                            "assembly programmers play rugby, while Pascal programmers play tiddlywinks" ...

                            tnx :-)

                            - avi

                            • 11. Re: External HTML editor for RH
                              avi10000 Level 1
                              >> Of course, as with any other editor you are going to lose the RH features such as creating links quickly, apply conditional build tags, using variable, using snippets and so on.

                              My idea was to build each page using some external (HTML) editor, and then import the as-clean-as-possible HTML into RH, and then apply all the things you mention, conditional build tags, using variables, and using snippets.

                              One of the RH MVPS I know uses Dreamweaver for this, and that's part of her professional workflow.
                              So there (but then of course, she is a girl, so what do you expect ... :-) )

                              - avi
                              • 12. Re: External HTML editor for RH
                                Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)
                                RH MVPS? Adobe Community Expert is the term. There's no such term as RH MVPS.

                                As soon as you open the topic in RH's editor it is going to rewrite the code. Sure you can do what you suggest but it means first you write the text, then have to go back and consider every point where you wanted those features, instead of adding them there and then.

                                You have to somehow indicate that you want a variable here, a snippet there and so on and until you do that in RH, you have no WYSIWYG as there will be no snippet there.

                                Go back to your original post here. What is it that is missing in the RH editor? It will not be the cleaner code. RH7 cleaned up a lot and I expect more from RH8. But until then RH will rewrite the code so I cannot see the benefit.

                                • 13. Re: External HTML editor for RH
                                  avi10000 Level 1
                                  >> RH MVPS? Adobe Community Expert is the term. There's no such term as RH MVPS.
                                  Right, now they are called Adobe Community Experts.

                                  >> As soon as you open the topic in RH's editor it is going to rewrite the code.
                                  You know what, I don't care if RH rewrites the code, just as long as RH leaves the result appearance looking nice, i.e., it doesn't smash up the appearance .

                                  >> Go back to your original post here. What is it that is missing in the RH editor? It will not be the cleaner code. RH7 cleaned up a lot and I expect more from RH8. But until then RH will rewrite the code so I cannot see the benefit.

                                  It's been a while now before I gave up in disgust, and went to writing in Word. But I had expected to be able to work in WSYWYG like in MEW or Word, with powerful style management. I expected there to be an easy access Styles side pane. There is not. The numbered lists were not reliable; they restarted when they were not supposed to. Both numbered and bulleted lists get confused about their indentation. It's lucky that I once taught myself MEW with HTML/CSS , so after a short refresher I could go into the HTML view and clean up all the code and make the lists the way they are supposed to be. But since I am at a new client and only working there at 100 hr/month, I had to show some real content output, and fast, and so I had no more time for RH trial and error. So I went back to Word (-- 2007, which I also did not know, but since I am (supposed to be) a Word 2003 guru I knew what I was looking for and that all the features are supposed to exist -- ) and wrote my first drafts with that.

                                  Actually, I am so shocked at RH's bad WSYWGY editor, if I had any choice I would recommend to my client to look for something better (if such a thing exists -- dare I mention Flare...), but since RH is an important TW skill, I want to add it to my skills list. So if my client has recommended using RH, this is a good opportunity to learn RH on their account.

                                  I have a feeling that I am eventually going to make a full circle, i.e., either I won't find cheap/free HTML editor taht does want I want, or even if I do, I will eventually run into the problems you mention, and I will end up writing in raw HTML, just as you say.

                                  Actually, on 2nd thoughts, I also have to be honest with my client, and I don't think they would be happy to hear that a guy who takes over from me at some point, or is hired in addition to me, would have to write HTML/CSS. They would want to hear that there is some type of WSYWYG solution for RH, either internal or external.

                                  Tnx,

                                  - avi
                                  • 14. Re: External HTML editor for RH
                                    Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)
                                    I had to smile. You don't like the quality of RH's code so you are writing in Word, which produces awful HTML.

                                    If RH is so bad, how come it also has the biggest market share?

                                    Good luck in your search.

                                    • 15. Re: External HTML editor for RH
                                      avi10000 Level 1
                                      >> I had to smile. You don't like the quality of RH's code so you are writing in Word, which produces awful HTML.

                                      I don't think you understood me. Maybe I didn't make myself clear. My using Word was a quick and dirty fix, but it at least it allowed me to make a quickly nice looking draft for the SMEs to review.

                                      And now I am going to back to my original task, namely how to use RH as a comfortable authoring platform. Once I have done that I will then have to import the work I have done using Word, in some way or other.

                                      >> If RH is so bad, how come it also has the biggest market share?
                                      I didn't say it is so bad; maybe it just needs some help. But, ideally, I would be looking for a one-stop solution all-in-the-box soln.

                                      >> If RH is so bad, how come it also has the biggest market share?
                                      As for the question itself, well this would be a common phenomenon in our industry, and indeed in the whole of life and throughout history.

                                      - avi


                                      • 16. Re: External HTML editor for RH
                                        Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                                        Hi Avi

                                        LOL, why back when I was a four point... Click here to see the video

                                        I'm sure that Peter and others are probably scratching their heads (as I am) when you mention how bad the editor is and how it's lacking in so many ways. Personally, I find that it accomplishes 99% of what I need or want and I'm quite satisfied with it. However, it wasn't always that way. Particularly when I initially switched from using RoboHelp for Word (where I developed exclusively WinHelp content) to the world of HTML.

                                        You never told us who the mystery female MVP was you mentioned!

                                        Cheers... Rick
                                        • 17. Re: External HTML editor for RH
                                          avi10000 Level 1


                                          >> I'm sure that Peter and others are probably scratching their heads (as I am) when you mention how bad the editor is and how it's lacking in so many ways. <SNIP>

                                          The reason is simple: I am probably just spoilt (=pampered) from using Word and MEW...
                                          But what can you do...if I can find some external HTML editor, then why should I unspoil myself?

                                          Btw, when I wrote WSYWYG earlier, of course I did not mean WSYWYG, but rather what you see represents what you get (and the RH editor was not doing that very easily...).

                                          Btw2, there was one more person who asked the same question on this list about 7 months ago (search "HTML editor").

                                          >> You never told us who the mystery female MVP was you mentioned!
                                          Can you live with a question...?

                                          - avi
                                          • 18. Re: External HTML editor for RH
                                            MergeThis Level 4
                                            LSV *

                                            When I've had to convert Word files into Winhelp, HTML Help, and WebHelp (since 1992, using SDK, Doc-to-Help, VAX Document, and RoboHelp), I've had to deal with the extensive clean-up required by the previous editing work of supposed "Word gurus." While you're probably more proficient than most, you also have to realize this stark truth: there's no HATT product that can seamlessly convert the typical Word binary file, filled with macros and XML and HTML placeholders, into clean HTML code (whether the supposedly "pure, W3C-compliant HTML" or the allegedly awful RH-proprietary code), especially when you figure the possibility of multiple users editing the Word files, each with their own level of sophistication in the product.

                                            So, what to do? Simply do what you can to clean up the Word files before importing them into RH (usually the least painful method), and then never again use Word for the RH project. Learn what works best, and adapt where it doesn't. And please, please keep your forum posting reserved for genuine requests for help, not for rants about HTML editors. None of us here work for Adobe; we've long ago made our peace with the RH product, and realize that other, newer users need help to work their way through an admittedly difficult process that's called online help.


                                            Good luck,
                                            Leon

                                            * Laughing Sotto Voce

                                            • 19. Re: External HTML editor for RH
                                              avi10000 Level 1
                                              >> When I've had to convert Word files into Winhelp, HTML Help, <SNIP>

                                              Since this is a new client, as I mentioned, I have only written a few small Word files so far. Then once I have found an HTML editor I am comfortable with, or am forced to use, I intend to literally copy the Word file **content**, item by item, into the HTML editor. Thus, I am not expecting any clean-up issues at all. (But I had better start this soon. Or else a year from now I will end up with a lot of copying and formatting to do, or a lot of clean up issues, as you say.)

                                              >> And please, please keep your forum posting reserved for genuine requests for help, not for rants about HTML editors.

                                              I am not quite sure whether you are referring to me or the other guys.

                                              Having reviewed the course of this thread, I really don't understand what the problem is. All I know is that I just started using RoboHelp. My background is that I am not scared of working with code (I am a software engineer, I have programmed in C and for years, and a fair bit of assembler, and more recently VB, and I have written HTML/CSS), neverthless just for my initial entry into RoboHelp, with all the pressures of proving myself in front of a new client, I was expecting and hoping that I would find it as easy to do formatting as in Dreamweaver or MEW. In university they taught us that if you have a problem never be shy to put up your hand and ask, coz if you have the question then chances are that 50% of the class have the same question. So since I failed at getting an easy start with RH formatting, I simply asked what other people do, and if they use an "easier", external HTML editor.

                                              W h a t e x a c t l y i s t h e p r o b l e m w i t h m y a s k i n g t h a t,
                                              a n d m y i n s i s t e n c e o n u s i n g s u c h a t o o l
                                              t o h e l p m e g e t s t a r t e d?

                                              - avi
                                              • 20. Re: External HTML editor for RH
                                                MergeThis Level 4
                                                avi, the problem is that you meet each of our suggestions with either disdain or with downright contempt. That, sir, is your problem.

                                                So, your choices appear to be Dreamweaver or Notepad. Unless you want to take a crack at creating your own HTML editor!


                                                Good luck,
                                                Leon
                                                • 21. Re: External HTML editor for RH
                                                  Level 2
                                                  Leon,

                                                  I wouldn't say avi's tone was disdainful or contemptuous. It's simply that he asked for a "good, cheap" HTML editor. I gave him the names of a couple of cheap ones (Coffee Cup, SpiderWriter), others have suggested a couple of good ones (Expression, Dreamweaver). The problem is simply that good AND cheap editors just don't exist. So when you ask for the impossible, you are bound to be disappointed by the responses.

                                                  Most of us on this forum have accepted RoboHelp as the best we can do and have learned to live with it's flaws. When RH v. 9 came out one of the things they advertised was how you could use your editor of choice. I remember thinking that this was an admission of failure on their part to provide a good editor, rather than a feature I wanted. But I rather like their editor - if only it would erase my SPAN IDs and my ONCLICK functions in my anchors!

                                                  This said, I'm reminded of a quote from the FDA - "software, unlike hardware, actually improves with age as the users learn to work around the bugs"

                                                  Good luck, avi. I suspect you can find a way to get RH to work for you. If not, good luck dredging up the cash for a good editor.

                                                  John