6 Replies Latest reply on Jan 13, 2010 1:10 PM by Peter Grainge

    Confused about which product to use


      I'm currently uses RoboHelp 7.0 to create Help for our software product.  I also create and update our software documentation manuals through Word.  I would like to just use one source.  If we upgraded to RoboHelp 8.0 can manuals get created easily from RoboHelp?  With an earlier version of RoboHelp the manuals looked terrible.  I had a chat with Adobe and they suggested InDesign CS4.  I have no idea what that is yet.  Thanks for any input.

        • 1. Re: Confused about which product to use
          johndaigle Level 4

          Hi, OISSander and welcome to the forums.


          Peter Grainge is the forum expert on Printed Documentation and he will no doubt chime in when he wakes up on the UK side of the pond.


          Meanwhile, I would offer that RoboHelp 8 does add more flexibility by offering you a new option of selecting a different CSS for generating a Word document for mapping styles (though I think Peter prefers spending more time on the Word document template). Peter's site offers many good suggestions, though I don't know if it has been updated for RoboHelp 8?



          His main suggestion is to spend more time up front by modifying the StyleMapping.dot (provided by RoboHelp) to try and provide the best mapping of your project's CSS styles to Word styles. By testing and tweaking beforehand, the results will be more satisfactory. For many authors, this meets or exceeds their requirements.


          However, Word itself has limitations (ugh) and will never be a true desktop publishing application. For this, you may want to look at Adobe FrameMaker instead of Adobe InDesign because it is already part of the Adobe Technical Communication Suite and there is a specific workflow for linking FrameMaker and RoboHelp so that FrameMaker controls the print output for maximum control and RoboHelp is used for the online output. Another consideration is whether the benefits of a full blown desktop publishing application (like InDesign) are worth the learning curve time.


          Finally, since you seem to be a Word-centric shop, a new feature in RoboHelp 8 is the ability to *link* Word documents (vs. importing). So, for example, if a subject matter expert is authoring a Word doc, instead of importing the document each time, you merely "update" the linked document to update the topics.


          If there is something specific about what you weren't happy about with the previous version's printed documentation, let us know and perhaps we can offer more suggestions.


          John Daigle

          Adobe Certified RoboHelp and Captivate Instructor


          • 2. Re: Confused about which product to use
            OISSander Level 1

            Thank you for the comments.  I would really like to produce our documentation from a single source and not have information in 2 places: RoboHelp and Word.  Currently, we generate a PDF of each chapter in the manuals and place them within the Help file in our software.  I think it would be so much easier if I could use RoboHelp and then produce documentation that way.  Do you know much about Adobe Technical Communication Suite?  Would that be benefical for us or too much because I really do not need Photoshop, Captivate or Presenter.  Maybe I should look at upgrading to 8.0 and look at FrameMaker.

            • 3. Re: Confused about which product to use
              johndaigle Level 4

              I agree that using RoboHelp alone to produce printed docs would be simpler and less expensive. A simple upgrade to v8 would certainly make sense if it satisfies your formatting requirments for the Word output.(My hunch is that it will.)


              However, I use and recommend TCS because by the time you would pay for RoboHelp and Framemaker separately, it is more economical to get the full suite and the integrated workflows. This is especially true if you ever plan to use Captivate at all. More and more RoboHelpers that I teach and consult are being tasked with adding animated Captivate demonstrations to their RoboHelp projects since users really like them as quick explanations before reading procedural text.


              Just my two cents.


              • 4. Re: Confused about which product to use
                Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional

                I don't know why your old manuals looked terrible as it has been possible to create decent Word documents from many versions of RH. I get a perfectly acceptable documents and have been sent stuff that looks very professional. As John indicated, the trick is to spend some time working on the Style Mapping template to get the styles you want.


                Take a look at the pages on my site to which John has pointed you.


                Post back with any specific details after that.


                In Design is probably better suited to glossy brochures and suchike. You should be able to get what you want from RH alone or TCS if you want to learn FM.


                See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

                Follow me @petergrainge

                • 5. Re: Confused about which product to use
                  OISSander Level 1

                  Thank you John and Peter for your comments.  I will look at Peter's website today and then probably move forward with purchasing TCS.  I think Captivate will be very useful when it comes to training our customers on how to use the software.  I may have another post after reviewing your site.  Thanks again!

                  • 6. Re: Confused about which product to use
                    Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional

                    Take advantage of the fact that you can run the trial for 30 days and there are NO limitations.


                    See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips

                    Follow me @petergrainge