I'm using RoboHelp for the first time today. Started it up. New blank project, no problem. Now, I'm going to need to import a lot of HTML files into RoboHelp, that were generated by an old HAT (ForeHelp)....
I go to the File, Import menu and select one of my .htm files. I have put the .htm file into its own folder together with any associated files that the HTML refers to. CRASH! No warnings, no messages, just a "This program needs to close" error. YOU WHAT? If RoboHelp couldn't understand the HTML I gave it, then why didn't RoboHelp's Import code issue a "There was a problem with reading the file" error at the every least? So, outside RoboHelp I take out anything in the HTML file that isn't plain vanilla HTML...
...and start RoboHelp again. This time the HTML file imports, but takes ages to load a medium sized graphic within the topic... but when it has, editing any surrounding text becomes absolutely impossible, since the whole application has slowed to a crawl! There's screen corruption everywhere, with text laid on top of other text - a complete disaster....
So I remove all references to the graphic from the HTML file and import it again. The same problem exists - impossible to edit text without screen corruption all over the place and massive slowdown. Then I realise the topic references a background image (a tiny 585 byte .GIF image). So again, I close RoboHelp, edit the HTML file to remove references the BODY BACKGROUND image, and re-import it afresh into RoboHelp. At last, I can edit the text in real-time! Then as an experiment, I use RoboHelp to assign the topic a backgorund image, exactly as specified in the Robohelp files. I use the same tiny 585 byte .GIF again, and it appears in the topic as expected.... but that massive slowdown and screen corruption is there again! What the hell is the point of allowing me to assign a background image to a topic, if the editor is so hopelessly designed it can't handle it?
In summary, I am astounded out how utterly flaky and incompetent RoboHelp seems to be. I have never used software that is so miserably slow and unreliable from the very outset. So what is this old ForeHelp application that I'm using, you might ask? Well, in 2001 when I was last selecting a HAT, it was winning all the awards for being the best HAT. Naturally, back then I tested the demo of RoboHelp too... but because it crashed constantly from the moment it started up (importing RTF files back then), I gave up with it, slack jawed at just how bad it was compared with ForeHelp. I've been happily using ForeHelp ever since, and it absolutely flies, even when editing my 750,000 word 1600 topic help file! Unfortunately, ForeHelp was sold up, with parts of its technology being bought by... ComponentOne, makers of Doc2Help!
I had thought that perhaps RoboHelp would have been tidied up after all these years of ownership by Adobe, but apparently not. It is truly disgraceful that a product that costs this much can crash and burn with no proper error handling, simply when attempting to import a file. It is unnacceptable that a product that costs this much can have such a hopelessly incompetent editing window, when my ancient ForeHelp blasts along with no issues whatsoever. RoboHelp doesn't even have the unified Adobe interface style either! If only I had known, I wouldn't have wasted my company's money on Technical Communication Suite 2, and would have just bought the (almost as creaky) FrameMaker 9 on its own.
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