ePub being the ubiquitous format now so almost all the smart phones and devices have a default reader for ePub.
For elaborate flow for ePub generation please follow the links below
for best results you should try RoboHelp 9
Wading into somewhat unfamiliar waters here to hopefully spur some discussion. Most of what I'll say is likely to be rhetorical.
I know Adobe has invested time into coaxing RoboHelp to create ePub format. That much is a given. How well ePub performs is another matter and to me, the jury is still out. For example, there is a place in RoboHelp 9 dialogs to supply an image to be used for the title page. But darned if I've ever been able to make it work.
But that aside, I'm not sure who (if anyone) has established that ePub is *THE* way to supply help for a mobile app. Maybe it is and maybe it isn't. I'm not sure.
I do recognize that ePub should work on most mobile devices and offer the reflow that PDF doesn't. But is ePub the best format to use for application help? For that matter, when you deal with an application for a mobile device, does it even NEED help supplied? Is there such a thing as context sensitive help? I've heard it stated that with mobile devices, only one app may run at a time. This would mean that whatever form the help is supplied in, the app that called the help to begin with would close first followed by the app presenting the help opening.
Definitely a new frontier here.
Helpful and Handy Links
Hey Rick - it might not be just help for a mobile app (probably most don't need much documenting); it could be help for some piece of equipment you're working with out in the field. The mobile device is just the delivery mechanism.
Thanks for your responses. I appreciate it. Upgrading to RoboHelp 9 in the near future won't be feasible, but I do have the script set up and working in RH8. Thanks to Willam for the additional script.
I should have mentioned that the application I'm creating the help for will be accessible via the web, and the help accessible via a Help link. Since it's a mobile app, the help is going to be very basic and likely just an FAQ style. I'm wondering if using RoboHelp is the best tool to use to create the content. The two options I'm aware of are:
- Use the ePub output. Ashish mentioned most smartphones and tablets come with a default ePub reader. Can you read ePub files on the BlackBerry though? According to Ankur's initial blog post on this topic you can, but some of the information I've read states that you can only read mobi files on your BlackBerry (similar to Kindle)?
Also, Rick mentioned that potentially opening the help could close the app on some devices. Wouldn't this make the ePub format useless then, since I'm assuming most mobile app help would be accessible from the product? From what I've read, the Android 2.2 OS, BlackBerry 6.0 OS and iOS4 all support multitasking, but if anyone knows more about this point, please let me know. I won't be able to use ePub if opening the help closes the web app.
- Modify the CSS so the text appears large enough on the mobile devices. We used this method using RH a year ago to provide help for an iPhone app, but the app I'm providing help for now will support both tablets and smartphones. My concern with this approach is the text won't appear correctly on both tablets and smartphones.
Any feedback is appreciated. I'm new to this and would love to hear more about using RH to create help for both smartphones and tablets.
Just on the upgrade.
Many people are not aware that the upgrade cost policy has changed. Previously there was one upgrade price, now it is tiered so that if you are upgrading from the last version it is cheaper than from earlier versions.
From RoboHelp 8 it is $399 whilst from 7 it is $599. If this new approach continues in the future, there's an argument for biting the bullet sooner rather than later.
See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips
I doubt that ePub is the way to go if you want to supply help. ePub is a format for electronic books and you need to download the ePub in order to view it. ePub has no paper page definitions as are present in PDF and so it is great for phones, eBook readers, tablets, etc. that don't have the page format to match the paper size. Most phones and tablets come with a eBook application installed.
I would think a simple site with the help would be much more usefull as a help (if you indeed need any). RoboHelp's WebHelp is not optimized *couch* for mobile devices. As long as you call only a topic you should be fine. I think showing the skin is a no go as that eats up way to much space on a simple mobile device.
Perhaps a simple site optimized for mobile devices is much more useful. Take a look at the mobile site of the gutenberg project: http://m.gutenberg.org/
That's a mobile site I like, but I'm afraid RoboHelp cannot create that kind of output. Perhaps a nice feature for version 10.
About the CSS: You can use relative sizes, such as em. These scale based on the device settings. Using em seriously confuses the WYSIWYG in Robo 8. Take a look at: http://www.w3schools.com/css/css_units.asp
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Hello all. I recently attended two webinars presented by Joe Welinski of WritersUA that covered designing and developing Help for mobile devices. I found them helpful in gaining a general understanding of how mobile Help differs from traditional formats and the issues around development. He also offers several device-specific webinars, but my company wanted to wait on those until we decide which devices to support for a future mobile app. Joe is apparently writing a book on this topic.
Here is a link to the WritersUA website if anyone wants more info: https://www.writersua.com/mobile_seminars.htm
Thanks Kim. I will likely be checking those out.
I also wanted to thank Willam for his excellent advice. I too agree that ePub isn't necessarily the right ouput to use. Instead I've gone with your suggestion to create a simple site optimized for mobile devices (using Joomla and templates). Thanks for your help!