I'm responsible for technical documentation at my company.
Yesterday I received an email about Robohelp 6, and decided to
check it out.
I've used Robohelp before and quite liked it. It's very
useful if you have an existing documentation base in Microsoft
Word; owever nearly all the companies I've worked at that have a
substantial documentation base use Framemaker and not Word as their
standard documentation platform, for a wide variety of reasons.
So, I'm a little disappointed to notice that Robohelp 6
really can't be used practically with Framemaker. Sure, I can
translate all my files to MIF and import them, but then this forces
me to go ahead and translate a lot of documentation manually (the
functionality to do a batch format conversion just doesn't exist).
It also forces me to keep two sets of documents (you can't generate
TOCs or IXs from MIF files apparently). That's just not acceptable
considering that the same company makes both applications.
Evidently RH6 isn't even able to use Framemaker to translate
documents on the fly the way that a third-party application like
WebWorks is able to do.
Seriously, I can't even say that the products are poorly
integrated, because they're evidently not integrated in any way.
This wouldn't be so bad if Frame 7.2 included the decent
version of WebWorks that used to be included with Frame 6.x,
or was even compatible with that version! But it's not. You
can't use Frame 7.2 with WebWorks. You're stuck with using
ePublisher, which isn't even close to an acceptable replacement as
it's a huge downgrade from the previous bundled app.
So, another online help solution is a dire necessity here,
and Adobe, despite owning both the Robohelp and Framemaker, is
either unable or unwilling to make both work together for a reason
which really escapes me. The one FAQ entry on the subject is beyond
vague and noncommittal and smacks of a half-answer designed to
"stop the technical writers whining about this".
Additionally, considering that Adobe itself is still to this
day bundling Quadralay products with Framemaker, wouldn't it be the
logically expected thing for Robohelp to be able to import WebWorks
and ePublisher projects, at least in part? Yet I don't see any way
in which this can be done.
Robohelp 6 is not a cheap product. At a grand a seat, it
costs more than Photoshop, despite being a much simpler product
(certainly in technical terms). I'd LOVE to be able to recommend
that my company buy a few licenses, but this is really not
something that I can do at this time, nor do I foresee a time when
I'll be able to do so unfortunately.
What can I, as a senior technical writer, expect Adobe to do
to resolve what I see as a serious impasse here?
Hi, tonyemond and welcome to the pond
You may not be aware, but Adobe only recently (within the
last year or so) acquired RoboHelp in the Macromedia deal. I can
understand your frustration and many of the issues you raise are
being addressed in the next version of RoboHelp which is being
developed as we "speak". In fact, it is so far along that you are
invited to join the Adobe RoboHelp pre-release (beta) program for
the next version.
I got to attend the sneak peek sessions at STC in Minneapolis
last month where Adobe showed many new features. As you may know,
there is a new version of Framemaker in beta as well (and Adobe
Captivate, too!). So, it takes a while to integrate these
leap-frogging targets. The wait will be rewarded however.