13 Replies Latest reply on May 10, 2011 8:23 AM by Tokanese

    is Robohelp 9 ready for prime time?


      I am contemplating upgrading from Robohelp 8 to Robohelp 9, but I want to get some feedback and advice before I do. I spent a few weeks last year migrating my large RH7 help system to RH8 and I'm not eager to repeat that process. Most of that time was spent reformatting my bulleted and numbered lists, which I'm assuming I won't need to do again, but there was other clean-up work as well. So, to those of you who have already migrated to RH9:


      How difficult was the upgrade?

      How stable does the new version seem? Are there a bunch of known bugs already?

      Do the new features/benefits outweigh the effort to upgrade?

      Is Adobe Acrobat 10 included or is that a separate purchase?

      Is Robohelp 9 still compatible with Word 2007 or just Word 2010?


      Any other comments and suggestions would be appreciated.



        • 1. Re: is Robohelp 9 ready for prime time?
          Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          Hi there


          I've been using RoboHelp 9 for months now with no real issues. As for the upgrade pains, indeed there were some that experienced them moving from 7 to 8 becuase the formatting was different. But you shouldn't see that moving from 8 to 9.


          As to the benefits making the upgrade worthwhile, that's why a trial is there and it's for you to decide. For me, it would be worth it on a few different points. But those points are likely to be different for each author.


          I do belive it is compatible with older Word versions as well as Office 2010.


          Not sure on the Acrobat bit. Others will have to answer. I'm thinking it may be only supplied with the Tech Comms Suite.


          Cheers... Rick



          Helpful and Handy Links

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          • 2. Re: is Robohelp 9 ready for prime time?
            Flaven Level 1

            Going from RH7 to RH8 was a nightmare for anything more complicated than "Run Spot Run" and I spent weeks of pure misery trying to get multiple RH projects slapped back into shape. So, of course, I jumped on the RH9 upgrade.


            The good news is that for $400 I can now use Word 2010 for "Printed Documentation". Haven't really discovered anything else, yet, of value over RH8.


            So far I've "converted" ten RH projects from RH8 to RH9 with two no-nos: one piece of CSS no longer works with IE8 and in several of the projects, the glossary (.glo) file became a zero-byte door stop (back up everything before converting: once the good .glo file was copied back in, it stayed put).


            The tenth project, the largest (with about 400 topics and 2,000 popups), fell apart. It converted OK, but dies and shuts down on compile -- Adobe Air, WebHelp, FlashHelp -- when entering the "Processing Full Text Search Data" phase.


            For me, my workflow demanded Word 2010 compatibility--which I knew would not be available except under an upgrade option. The failure of the tenth project restores my faith in Adobe; it would have been so boring not to have a challenge other than installation.

            • 3. Re: is Robohelp 9 ready for prime time?
              Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional

              Glad to hear you kept your faith.


              I wonder if you would be willing to share the pre-upgrade version of the large project to see if there is any connection with the upgrade issues you had or with 64 bit.


              If you are, see the Contact page on my site.


              See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips



              • 4. Re: is Robohelp 9 ready for prime time?
                Author care Level 2


                Just a personal opinion, but whenever any software like RH has a new version out I would always wait a while until the teething troubles are sorted out.

                Once the problem issues are known and covered on the various forums, one is then in a better position to deal with any problems that occur.

                Typically I would wait 6 months plus...

                • 5. Re: is Robohelp 9 ready for prime time?
                  Flaven Level 1

                  If everyone did that, then you could wait your six months and become a beta tester like the rest of us...<G>

                  • 6. Re: is Robohelp 9 ready for prime time?
                    A25CharacterScreenName Level 1

                    During my testing I discovered a flaw so critical that my company simply cannot upgrade to RH9.


                    Our project uses 9 separate Conditional Build Tags (CBTs) and 10 Single Source Layouts, one for each CBT and one which is a combination of two of them. We have 62 topic and 63 snippets with uncountable thousands of applications of the CBTs throughout (literally uncountable; RoboHelp tends to replicate them in ways I haven't quite figured out, and there is no good automated way to count the instances in the sources).


                    In a RoboHelp 8 document I have the following text (extracted from a larger document):


                    <?rh-cbt_start condition="NBA" ?><h3><a name="Bank" id="Bank">Bankruptcy</a></h3><?rh-cbt_end ?>


                    After conversion of the project to RH9 that same text became:


                    <?rh-cbt_start condition="NBA" ?><h3><a name="Bank" id="Bank"><span><?rh-cbt_start condition="NBA" ?>Bankruptcy<?rh-cbt_end ?></span></a></h3><?rh-cbt_end ?>


                    Note the addition of a new CBT Processing Instruction (PI) surrounding the text inside the the <h3> tag, and the addition of an HTML <span> element surrounding the PIs. Both of these additions are unnecessary, as the second PIs are encompassed by the first, and <span>s in HTML which have no attributes (e.g. 'class' or 'style') are ignored by all known User Agents.


                    Returning to the Design view for this topic was very slow. I then scrolled through the topic examining it, but making no changes. When I returned to the HTML view the above text was now rendered as:


                    <?rh-cbt_start condition="NBA" ?><h3><a name="Bank" id="Bank"><span><span><?rh-cbt_start condition="NBA" ?>Bankruptcy<?rh-cbt_end ?></span></span></a></h3><?rh-cbt_end ?>


                    Fearing the worst, I began switching between the Design view and the HTML view, and after four iterations of this, without making any textual changes, the foregoing text now appeared as:


                    <?rh-cbt_start condition="NBA" ?><h3><a name="Bank" id="Bank"><span><span><span><span><span><span><?rh-cbt_start condition="NBA" ?>Bankruptcy<?rh-cbt_end ?></span></span></span></span></span></span></a></h3><?rh-cbt_end ?>


                    It appears that each time the view shifts, RoboHelp adds a new set of <span> tags around CBT PIs which are used inline. As a result of this experiment, the document which had an original size of 303 KB is now 1,111 KB, all without any changes to the text.


                    I have reported this defect to Adobe; who knows when, or if, it will be addressed.


                    Of less serious concern, in the past, a number of reports have been made about the performance, or lack thereof, of RoboHelp HTML. Other than the usual "don't put source files on a network share" and "apply the most current patches," no one has been able to offer any insight as to why this is happening.


                    RoboHelp HTML is certainly not a "snappy" program (I sometimes suspect that it was actually written using a scripting language, like Javascript). My own experience suggests that it is not unusably slow until multiple CBTs and SSLs are involved. With my particular project, in RH8 when the SSL "pod" is visible simply switching focus away from RoboHelp and back again can require 20 seconds before the program becomes responsive. During this time the Task Manager shows that RoboHelp is consuming 90-98% of the CPU. I have been able to avoid most of this frustration by keeping the CBT and SSL "pods" closed except when absolutely necessary.


                    With RoboHelp 9, the program never grabs more than 50% of the CPU, but the background processes that were causing the slowness now seem to be running even when the CBT and SSL tabs are closed. In other words, RoboHelp 9's performance in this particular scenario seems to be even slower than RH8, and I haven't figured out a work-around like I did for RH8.


                    There are undoubtedly instance in which RH9 will work just fine, but if you have a project that uses Conditional Build Tags and/or multiple Web Help layouts I would not attempt an upgrade until these problems have been fixed.

                    • 7. Re: is Robohelp 9 ready for prime time?
                      Jeff_Coatsworth Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                      Reminds me of Monty Python -

                      Span, span, span, span...Glorious Span!


                      Sorry to hear it's not working in your case.

                      • 8. Re: is Robohelp 9 ready for prime time?
                        Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional

                        I once saw another problem where switching caused code to keep repeating. Needless to say I cannot locate the post!


                        If you import the rogue topic into a new project and then upgrade it, do you still get the problem?


                        Is the main project one that you can share with me?


                        Your level of technical knowledge is such that you know RoboHelp wasn't written using Javascript or anything similar.


                        For anyone else reading this thread, I cannot agree with the warning "if you have a project that uses Conditional Build Tags and/or multiple  Web Help layouts I would not attempt an upgrade until these problems  have been fixed." I don't doubt A25etc has a problem but from what I have seen on this forum and others and during beta testing, this is rare. As above I have only seen anything like it once before. Use the free trial and decide for yourselves.


                        See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips



                        • 9. Re: is Robohelp 9 ready for prime time?
                          Flaven Level 1

                          FYI, for anyone with a similar crash issue as I reported above: with extraordinary help from Peter Grainge and some nameless individuals from Adobe support, the problem turned out be internal issues with several PDFs called by links in the project. Apparently that is where the full-text-search process choked and the app died without whimper or error. The PDFs worked fine in RH8 and previous versions.


                          So, if this occurs while compiling a project, remove or rename your PDF files and see if that makes a difference, then reintroduce them one-by-one to isolate the culprits.


                          Later: I discovered the five PDFs identified by support as issues were printed via Acrobat 7. On a whim, I opened the source Microsoft Word files and reprinted the PDFs via Acrobat 9. The issue went away.

                          • 10. Re: is Robohelp 9 ready for prime time?
                            Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional



                            I have emailed you on this matter. If you haven't seen the email, please check your spam folder. If you don't want to pursue this, that's fine but the offer is there.


                            See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips



                            • 11. Re: is Robohelp 9 ready for prime time?

                              I have several problems with RoboHelp9. I am using Windows7 and 64bit.


                              Conditional build tags apply themselves unwanted and unassigned.

                              The deletion of conditional build tags at the topic properties tag (right side window) does not work.

                              I have to repeatedly go back and forth to the dialog and keep selecting and deleting.

                              Some of the conditional build tags go clear, most don't.

                              I go into the topic directly in the wysiwyg view and manually try to select and delete them, and they delete only with difficulty.

                              After running through a long topic and using every method available to clear conditional build tags, I saved the project, then went in to manually apply cbtags, of which I am only using two.

                              After applying them, and switching to the html window to adjust image sizes manually (because thru the wysiwyg interface the process takes too long), I find that the conditional build tag I applied to several tables and texts at the top of my topic have now applied themselves unasked to a number of the texts and even tables which I had cleared of all cbtags.

                              I have just about had it with this program.


                              This is only one of the many problems and bugs I have found and been trying to work around.


                              I suppose that the solution to my problem is to not use conditional build tags at all, but I am working with about five years' worth of legacy technical documents that have all been upgraded to RH9 and as I am looking at them to make the standard revisions, I am noticing this phenomenon of wrongly applied cbtags in other projects.


                              I would rate this as a bug of very high and critical importance.


                              Has anyone seen this under the consitions stated? (RH9, upgraded RH7 projects, Windows7, 64bit).

                              • 12. Re: is Robohelp 9 ready for prime time?
                                Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional

                                You have posted this in another thread and I have advised there is a sticky topic covering this problem.


                                See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips



                                • 13. Re: is Robohelp 9 ready for prime time?
                                  Tokanese Level 1

                                  I've been working with the Adobe Tech team and they've come up with a patch they say will resolve the random CBT issue.  Robohelp 9.01 is available at    http://download.adobe.com/pub/adobe/robohelp/win/9.x/AdobeRoboHelp901Patch.zip  .